French Renaissance Paleography


Paris, 1650/1685
Roland Le Vayer de Boutigny, De la preuve par comparaison d’ecritures
Chicago, Newberry Library, VAULT Wing MS ZW 39 .501


This treatise expresses serious doubts about the forensic examination of handwriting. Its author, Roland Le Vayer de Boutigny, was a lawyer and maître des requêtes (high level judicial officer) at the Parlement of Paris, who also wrote other treatises, plays, and novels. _De la preuve par comparaison d’écritures _was published in Paris in about 1666 and reedited in 1704. This manuscript is a copy of one of the printed versions, but no one has yet done a comparison to identify which one. It is also possible that this manuscript is a copy of another manuscript, although that seems much less likely. One copyist prepared the body of the text, but someone else added the marginal notes. An inscription in the bound volume indicates that at least one bibliographer believed the marginalia to be in Le Vayer’s own hand, but this has not been verified.

A late 18th- or early 19th-century owner of the manuscript created a literary triptych by having it bound with a copy of the printed book from 1666, and also with L. P. Vallain’s _Traité sur la preuve par comparaison d’écritures, pour servir de réponse au Traité de M. Le Vayer _. . . (1761), which Vallain published as a response to Le Vayer de Boutigny.