A Literary Tour de France

                 As soon as he arrived in Avignon, Favarger knew he was in hostile territory.  “Je n’ai pu découvrir ce qui s’y fait,” he wrote to Neuchâtel on August 8, “car j’ai été partout gardé à vue.”  The city’s most important bookseller, Jean Louis Chambeau, received him « fort ironiquement », and the other booksellers also gave him a cool reception.  He was, after all, the agent of a pirate publisher, and they were in the same line of business.  Piracy—or the reprint trade, if a gentler term be preferred—had grown into a major industry in Avignon during the eighteenth century, and the way it was practiced by the Avignonnais had a great deal in common with the operations of the Neuchâtelois.  Just as Neuchâtel ran its own affairs as an independent, francophone principality, far removed from its nominal sovereign, the king of Prussia, so did Avignon thrive as a papal enclave in the heart of southern France.  The pope did nothing to restrain its presses, while the French usually allowed its books to circulate quite freely.  Provincial booksellers filled their shelves with its cheap reprints and studiously failed to confiscate its shipments in their guild offices (chambres syndicales).

          Pirate publishers were businessmen, intent on turning profits.  When they saw a chance for gain, they often cooperated among themselves, usually on a local or regional scale but sometimes at distances as great as that from Neuchâtel to Avignon.  The STN had dealt with the Avignonnais for many years, and Favarger came prepared to cut deals.  To follow him through the thicket of the city’s bookshops is to watch the publishing industry at work in a particularly dense environment.  First, however, one should consider some of the peculiarities of Avignon, paying special attention to an aspect of publishing that has escaped the notice of most historians: the practice of swapping books.

Spoiler: Highlight to view

For most of the eighteenth century, as René Moulinas has explained in an excellent monograph, L’Imprimerie, la librairie et la presse à Avignon au XVIIIe siècle (Grenoble, 1974), Avignon was a pirate’s paradise.  After making it their seat during the fourteenth century, the popes withdrew to Rome and left it to the lax supervision of a vice legate.  Privileges of French books had no legal force in the papal state, so publishers could reprint them to their hearts content.  By 1769, Avignon had 22 booksellers and printers and 40 active presses—an enormous number for a city with only 24,000 inhabitants.  Its publishers operated on a scale comparable to that of the great houses in Lyon and Rouen, and they competed with the pirates in Switzerland.

They also cooperated, depending on shifts in their strategy.  Like the Swiss, they minimized risks and varied their stock by swapping large proportions of their editions against books in the stock of allied publishers.  Exchanges were normally calculated in sheets, although they also took place according to wholesale prices, owing to disparities in the paper, format and density of the printing.  Of course, transport added to the cost of the exchanges, but the shipments up and down the Rhône were relatively cheap: 40-50 sous per hundredweight from Lyon to Avignon and 5 livres from Avignon to Lyon [See Roberty to STN, January 16, 1775 and Veuve Joly & fils to STN, November 22, 1780].  Also, the Avignonnais and the Swiss had some common interests, particularly the need to cope with the erratic policies of the French government. 

On March 1, 1771, Versailles levied a tax on domestic consumption of paper, and it exempted exports of paper, thereby giving foreign publishers of French books a great advantage.  To redress the balance, it decreed on September 11, 1771 that imports of books would be taxed at 60 livres per hundredweight.  That rate was so high that it threatened to bring the foreign book trade to a complete halt.  In response to pressure from the Parisian publishers, who had originally favored measures against competition from abroad, the government reduced the rate to 20 livres per hundredweight in November 1771 (but it added a surtax of 8 sous per livre, making the effective duty 28 livres per hundredweight), then to 6 livres 10 sous in November 1773; and it finally abolished the duty entirely in April 1775. 

As the STN’s correspondence demonstrates, the foreign publishers followed French policy with great attention, negotiating and renegotiating the terms of their sales to French customers with every change in the import duty.  And once the import-export difficulties were resolved, they had to cope with a bigger problem.  On August 30, 1777, the king’s council issued five edicts (arrêts du Conseil), which required some fundamental changes in the book trade.  Although in some ways they reinforced the position of provincial booksellers in relation to the monopolistic practices of the Parisian guild, the edicts favored the Parisians by ordering severe measures to stamp out the trade in pirated works.  The provincial dealers relied so heavily on cheap contrefaçons, acquired primarily from foreign publishers, that the edicts permitted them to sell off their current stock, provided that they had each pirated copy stamped in the nearest chambre syndicale.  Any unstamped copies would be confiscated, and future trade in pirated works would be severely punished.  How the edicts would be applied worried everyone in the book business, as Favarger discovered wherever he went.  In Avignon it looked as though the golden age of piracy might come to an end.

The Avignonnais attempted to dispel this danger by claiming that they were really French.  Despite the papal legate and his Italian staff ensconced in the Palais des papes, the city did not differ fundamentally from other provincial centers in the South.  The common people spoke Provençal and lived from local trade and manufacturing (silk as well as publishing, which occupied 5,000 workers.)  The elite spoke French and participated in a culture shaped by French institutions: a university, an academy, a theater, salons, cafés, and bookshops.  The entire city actually became French in 1768, when Louis XV annexed it in order to exert pressure on the pope during the conflict over the abolition of the Jesuits.  The change in sovereignty did not interrupt the trade of the printers and booksellers; and they continued with business as usual when Avignon became a papal enclave once again in 1774.  But the edicts of 1777 created a new chambre syndicale in nearby Nîmes.  It threatened to confiscate the pirated books that flowed out of Avignon; and it refused to offer the Avignonnais temporary relief by stamping their stock, because the director of the French book trade insisted that they were foreigners.  Of course, the publishers in Avignon could fall back on smuggling in the same manner as their counterparts in Neuchâtel, but they all would suffer if the French authorities enforced their new policy to destroy the trade in contrefaçons.

Such was the situation that Favarger confronted when he made the rounds of the booksellers in Avignon in August 1778.  In order to get his bearings, he asked for advice from Veuve Louis Bouchet et Cie., merchants who dealt in the silk trade and had been recommended by the STN’s banker in Lyon, d’Arnal et Cie.  As fellow Protestants, they could be trusted, and they gave a frank appraisal of every bookseller in Avignon.  Armed with this information, Favarger called on twelve of them.  As he ticked off their names and compiled notes in his diary, he sorted them into the categories that he always used to determine degrees of trustworthiness and solidarity: “good,” “mediocre,” and “not good.”  The “not goods” included ten of Avignon’s smaller booksellers.  Favarger did not look them up or mention them in his notes, which can be summarized as follows.

Chambeau: Good but difficult to deal with.

Offray: Mediocre and insists on cheaper prices.

Dubier: Mediocre; might buy some Bibles.

Fabre: Very good; liked some of the works in the STN’s catalogue and might make a trial order.  “Il est un des Avignonnais qui m’a paru honnête, car j’en ai vu beaucoup sur lesquels il faut peu compter. »

Merande : Very good, but would not even look at the catalogue.

Garrigan: Mediocre; he proposed an exchange, to be calculated by price rather than by sheet.  His pirated Dictionnaire de l’Académie would be worth having.

Aubanel: Mediocre.  His proposals for an exchange are not worth pursuing. 

Niel: A good printer but absent from his shop.

Seguin: Also very good and willing to do a swap, but few outstanding books listed in his catalogue. 

Bonnet frères: “Passent pour de très honnêtes gens, ce qui est un peu rare à Avignon. »  Are willing to swap (by the sheet with one sheet of illustrations worth two of printed text) but not to purchase.  A swap could be advantageous—e.g. their works of Buffon and sermons of Massillon, which are not too badly printed, for the STN’s works of Dorat, Piron, and Molière.  

Guillermont: Very good, but never in his shop, despite five or six attempts to meet him.

Guichard: Mediocre but hard-working, recovering from his bankruptcy, and appears to be an « honnête homme.”  He prints novels like Confidences d’une jolie femme and wants to make a deal worth 1,100 livres: he would spend half that sum in direct purchases from the STN and cover the other half in exchanges valued by the sheet.  If he paid the last money order he owes the STN on the date of its maturity, this might be a good idea.   

The notes scribbled in Favarger’s diary and the fuller reports in his letters give a quick, kaleidoscopic view of the trade in Avignon in 1778, but to see deeper into its operations, one should consult the printer-booksellers’ dossiers, which cover the entire period 1771-1787, in the STN archives.  Two dossiers can be taken to represent the general tendencies of the trade: those of Jean Joseph Guichard, a small and somewhat marginal dealer, and Antoine Garrigan, a fairly prosperous publisher located at the heart of the local industry.  

Guichard, who impressed Favarger with his honesty and industriousness, came across as an energetic entrepreneur when he began corresponding with the STN in 1771.  His letters show that he used exchanges to build up his stock in prohibited works while divesting himself of the pirated editions of legal books that he printed on his two presses.  In a letter of December 4, 1771, he listed 21 titles that he wanted to procure, all of them hard-core “livres philosophiques” such as Système de la nature, Traité des trois imposteurs, and Histoire de dom B….., portier des Chartreux.  Samuel Fauche, a partner of the STN who left it after a quarrel in 1773, specialized in the illegal trade and replied that he was eager to arrange a swap.  But the import duty meant that customs officers policed the border with increased severity.  To get forbidden books to Avignon required the use of professional smuggler-insurers.  After some negotiations, the STN set the cost of “une partie de l’assurance” at 12 percent of the value of the merchandise with delivery guaranteed as far as Chalon or Bourg-en-Bresse.  Guichard answered that he would not pay more than 6 percent, but that rate, he argued, ought to prove profitable for the STN, because he did a large retail business within Avignon, and he would buy the books instead of procuring them by exchange.   He especially wanted forbidden books and in particular the STN’s nine-volume edition of Voltaire’s Questions sur l’Encyclopédie.

After some haggling over the price, the STN agreed to provide Guichard with 250 copies of the Questions.  It could get the first four volumes to him by June 1773, because it could dispose of a lot that it had kept in storage with one of its agents in Lyon.  They arrived in Avignon on time, but the STN sent volumes 5-9 from Neuchâtel via Geneva; its Genevan agent failed to take the proper precautions; and the shipment, in nine large bales, was confiscated at the French border.  By pulling strings and agreeing to pay the full import duty, the STN finally got the bales released and forwarded through Lyon.  But they did not make it to Avignon until September.  Guichard then refused to accept them, claiming that the delay had damaged his potential sales, as other editions had already reached the market and creamed off the demand.  He would pay for the shipment only on the condition that he be given an extension of four years to redeem the promissory note that covered it.  For its part, the STN suspected that he had secretly sold off some of the books.  Recriminations flew back and forth in the mail, until at last, in May 1774, they agreed on a settlement.

By then, however, Guichard’s business had begun to falter.  Although he had  sent some large orders to the STN, he complained in April 1773, “Il faut observer que la librairie en général est tombée totalement et que les temps sont très durs.”  He did most of his business in Avignon itself, but he also sold books at the great annual trade fair in nearby Beaucaire.  Beaucaire provided an excellent market until 1774, when Avignon ended its six-year existence as French territory and returned to the sovereignty of the pope.  At that point the French began to collect the duty on the export of books from Avignon.  Faced with “la crise de l’impôt” and a decline in sales from his shop, Guichard suspended payments on his debts in July 1775—that is, he declared virtual bankruptcy.  In a circular letter to his creditors, he explained: “L’impôt mis sur la librairie étrangère joint aux mauvaises récoltes que nous avons eues ici depuis quatre ans ont donné lieu à un manque de vente presque totale dans la partie de la librairie, d’où il est résulté pour moi la consommation entière des petits fonds que j’avais à mon propre. »  His debts came to 11,211 livres, « y compris 1,500 livres pour les droits dotaux de ma femme. »  His assets included material in his printing shop, which he evaluated at only 1,530 livres, and 9,575 livres in his stock of books, which he broke down as follows: 875 livres in bound books, 3,725 livres in stitched books, and 4,975 livres in books in sheets—an indication of how much unbound books prevailed in the retail trade.  He informed his creditors that they could insist on a “vente forcée” of his stock, which would ruin him and produce relatively little cash for them, or they could compensate themselves by taking books from his stock at their wholesale price and granting him more time to pay off the remainder of his debt while continuing his business.

Booksellers often succumbed to such bankruptcies or “faillites” during hard times; and the STN usually reached an accommodation with them, because it stood to lose more by harsh legal action than by extending the dates on the bills that had become due.  By July 1775, Guichard had run up a debt of 2134 livres to the STN.  After receiving an extension, he paid off most of that sum in 1776, but he still owed 550 livres when Favarger arrived in August 1778.  Despite the debt hanging over him, Favarger conceived a good deal of sympathy for him: “C’est un jeune homme qui a formé une imprimerie avec peu de ressources.”  By hard work, his business had revived, and local informants such as Bouchet thought he would survive.  Guichard proposed a transaction worth 1,100 livres, half as a purchase and half as an exchange.  If he acquitted his final note for 550 livres, Favarger thought it might be worth pursuing.  Three weeks after Favarger’s departure, Guichard wrote that he could not pay the note after all, at least not at the date of its maturity.  He promised he would honor it eventually—and at that point his dossier gives out.  Whether or not the STN finally collected the debt, it left Guichard where Favarger had found him, in the bottom rank of the “médiocres.”

Favarger also classified Jacques Garrigan as mediocre, but that may have been an under-estimate, because Garrigan belonged to a prominent family of bookseller/printers, and he was syndic of the local booksellers’ guild.  His letters do not reveal the slightest symptom of financial instability, and they contain the fullest account of the operations of the exchange trade. 

Garrigan had not done business with the STN before Favarger’s arrival in Avignon.  When they discussed establishing relations, they agreed on an initial exchange, which, if satisfactory, would set a pattern for the future.  Instead of swapping by sheets, they would calculate exchanges according to fixed, wholesale prices (Garrigan’s prices varied, and the STN valued all its books at 1 sous per sheet.)  The STN would cover all the risks and costs of its shipments as far as the southern exit of Lyon, and Garrigan would do the same as far as Vienne, just southeast of Lyon.  Garrigan offered four reference works that he had printed: Dictionnaire de l’Académie française, Le maître italien, Dictionnaire domestique and Mémoires du clergé.  In exchange, he wanted a selection of 24 works from the STN’s catalogue, including 30 Oeuvres complètes d’Alexis Piron, 30 Oeuvres de Molière, 25 Psaumes de David, 25 Histoire de l’Amérique by William Robertson, 12 Voyage à l’Isle de France by Bernardin de Saint Pierre, 12 Avis au peuple sur sa santé by Simon-André Tissot, and a variety of other books.  The STN was to select the equivalent value from the works he had offered.

It did not pursue this possibility, but in September 1780 Garrigan—or his son, Jean-Marie, who handled the correspondence and signed the letters “pour mon père”—proposed a similar exchange with the proviso that each party would deliver its shipment at its own costs and risks to the STN’s agent in Lyon, Jacques Revol.  The STN agreed and sent 891 livres’ worth of books to Revol in exchange for Garrigan’s Dictionnaire de l’Académie française.  The Dictionnaires bore a stamp indicating that they had been cleared through a chambre syndicale as required by the edicts of August 30, 1777, but Revol suspected that the stamps were counterfeit.  Garrigan assured the STN that they were legitimate, and therefore Revol sent them for inspection in the chambre syndicale of Lyon so that he could forward them to Neuchâtel.  But the inspector impounded them on the suspicion of fraud—and counterfeiting a stamp was a far more serious offense than pirating, as Revol informed the STN: “Si cela est, c’est une bien mauvaise affaire pour Garrigan, et si pareil chose arrivait à un libraire de France, il serait fort heureux s’il en était quitte pour la galère.”  In the end, the stamps were found to be legitimate, and the exchange was completed.  Although Revol still considered Garrigan “un difficulteux et un chicaneur,” the STN remained ready to do more business with him.

In June, 1781 Garrigan proposed another exchange.  He now found it important to stipulate two conditions: the quality of the paper and type must be of the same standard (he would not accept anything printed on paper with a gray hue), and there should be no delays in sending off the shipments (sometimes one partner in an exchange held back its shipment so that it could sell the same book to other clients while the demand was fresh).  The STN agreed and asked for 31 more copies of Dictionnaire de l’Académie française, his most steady seller, which he supplied at a special price of 18 livres as opposed to its normal wholesale price of 24 livres.  The STN also said it would take a trial shipment of two other reprints from his presses: Dictionnaire géographique portative by Jean-Baptiste l’Avocat, abbé Vosgien and an augmented edition of L’Ami des enfants à l’usage des écoles de la campagne by Friedrich Eberhard von Rochow.  Both appeared in the STN’s catalogue a year later and sold quite well. 

Having established relations and completed some successful exchanges,  Garrigan began to express an interest in procuring forbidden books, particularly Raynal’s Histoire philosophique et politique des établissements et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes, Vie privée de Louis XV by Barthélemy-François-Joseph Moufle d’Angerville, and L’Espion anglais ou correspondance secrète entre Milord All’eye et Milord All’ear by Mathieu-François Pidansat de Mairobert  He also mentioned that he traded with Samuel Fauche, the former partner of the STN who specialized in “livres philosophiques” while continuing business on his own.  Such books may not have constituted a large part of Garrigan’s stock, but he seemed eager to acquire them.  In a letter of September 20, 1782, he asked, “Pourriez-vous me procurer la Foutromanie?”  It seems in general that the Avignonnais publishers limited their pirating to legal works and exchanged them for the highly illegal ones available from Swiss presses.

The exchanges continued happily until mid-1783, except for an incident in November 1781.  Having fallen ill, Revol failed to clear a shipment containing the STN’s half of an exchange through the chambre syndicale of Lyon.  It could have been confiscated, but the syndic of the chambre, who was an ally of the STN, rescued it by having it returned to Neuchâtel.  The delay, however, looked like foul play to Garrigan, who fired off an angry letter:

J’attends avec bien d’impatience que vous donniez ordre à M. Revol que cette balle me soit rendue selon nos conventions, et si dans le délai suffisant je ne reçois point satisfaction, je me prévaudrai sur vous, Messieurs, pour le montant de la mienne.  Jamais depuis que je fais des changes je n’avais éprouvé de pareilles tracasseries….J’ai eu la confiance de vous expédier le premier.  Ne m’en donnez pas de regrets.

The key expression in this outburst was « confiance. »  For exchanges to succeed, each party had to send off his half as soon as the agreement was reached.  If one party delayed his shipment, he could sell the remaining copies of the books he had exchanged, thereby creaming off the demand before the other party could get to the market with the same books.  Wholesalers such as Garrigan and the STN sold their wares in some of the same places, such as the Rhône valley and southern France.  A few French markets were large enough to absorb many of the same books from different suppliers, but the competition was especially fierce among pirate publishers, who rushed to be the first to put their cheap reprints up for sale.  Although they occasionally cooperated, collusion would not work if it were not based on mutual trust—that is, “confiance,” a crucial aspect of the book trade in general.

After the STN explained the cause of the mishap, Garrigan resumed swapping and adopted a more cordial tone.  “Ayons réciproquement la confiance pour éviter les lenteurs des expéditions, » he wrote on March 1, 1782.  His subsequent letters indicated the books he most wanted from the STN’s stock and those he could supply from his own presses.  By following the negotiations, one can see how the contours of his business took shape.  To be sure, Garrigan also exchanged books with other publishers, notably Samuel Fauche in Neuchâtel and Jean Abram Nouffer in Geneva, and therefore his swaps with the STN give only a partial view of his trade.  Although it would be tedious to recount every exchange book by book (the full details can be studied from Garrigan’s letters, which are available on this website), a few examples illustrate the general tendency.

  On March 27, 1782, Garrigan offered to swap 25 of the last remaining copies of his Dictionnaire de l’Académie française (a work that he reprinted several times and that seemed always to be in demand), 100 copies of L’Ami des enfants, and 100 copies of Vosgien’s  Dictionnaire géographique portative, which he soon would complete printing, against 50 copies of the STN’s L’Espion anglais, 6 copies of the works of Molière, 6 of the works of Claude-Joseph Dorat, and 6 of the works of Alexis Piron.  On May 6, he offered to add, on his side, 30 copies of Les Trois siècles de la literature française by Antoine Sabatier, and he requested the following additional works from the STN:

30 La Raison par alphabet by Voltaire

20 Le Gazetier cuirassé by Charles Théveneau de Morande

20 Le Bon-sens by Paul-Henri Dietrich Thiry, baron d’Holbach

12 Consolation de l’âme fidèle by Charles Drelincourt

12 La Nourriture de l’âme by Jean-Rodolphe Ostervald

50 Abrégé de l’histoire sainte et du catéchisme by Jean-Frédéric Ostervald

12 Prières de piété

12 Les Commencements et les progrès de la vraie piété by Philip Doddridge

6 Théologie de l’Ecriture sainte

25 Psaumes

6 Sermons nouveaux sur divers textes de l’Ecriture sainte by François-                                       Jacques Durand

The mixture of Protestant piety and Enlightenment irreligion may look odd to the modern reader, but it appears often in orders by booksellers.  Another Avignonnais publisher, Pierre Joseph Roberty, imported 500 copies of Le Bordel ou le Jean-foutre puni along with Protestant works from another supplier and explained to the STN in a letter of February 8, 1775, “Ce n’est que ce genre de livres Protestants qui m’engagera à faire un échange contre les articles que je vous ai offerts.  Vous savez le danger qu’il y  a d’imprimer cette sorte de livres et les dépenses qu’ils exigent. »  Evidently Garrigan sold religious books to the Huguenots of southern France while supplying other customers with some downright atheism.   

          The exchange took place without incident, and the two parties agreed to discharge their mutual exchange accounts (“comptes de change”) in August, 1782.  Then they began negotiating again.  Garrigan announced that he had a “bonne nouveauté sous presse”: Les Liaisons dangereuses, a scandalous but not a strictly forbidden work.  He also offered Les Jardins by Jacques Delille and Description abrégée de la Jamaïque by Jean-Claude Pingeron.  From the STN he requested 12 copies of a 25-volume edition of Rousseau’s works, 24 copies of the Confessions, 12 Nouvelles découvertes des Russes entre l’Asie et l’Amérique by William Coxe, and 100 more L’Espion anglais.  After the completion of that exchange, Garrigan wrote that he was especially eager to get a new edition of Raynal’s Histoire philosophique along with a further supply of Vie privée de Louis XV and L’Espion anglais.  Although it was to collaborate with Jean Abraham Nouffer in an edition of the Raynal in 1783-84, the STN informed Garrigan in 1782 that it would not produce its own edition.  He replied on October 4: “Je suis faché que vous ne puissiez avoir de l’Histoire philosophique.  Pourquoi laisser manquer un article comme celui-là?  Que ne l’imprimez-vous, ainsi que la Vie privée!  J’en prendrais 100 exemplaires de chacun. »  He even offered to invest in an STN edition of the Histoire philosophique: “Je prendrais un intérêt de 500 exemplaires, prix de fabrique.”  But he withdrew the offer three weeks later, having procured 100 copies as an exchange with another Swiss publisher. 

Meanwhile, Garrigan was turning out another edition of the Dictionnaire de l’Académie, and in March 1783 he concluded a new exchange with the STN, this one valued at 543 livres.  Garrigan provided 181 copies of his Dictionnaire géographique portative, and the STN sent the following:

6 Œuvres complètes d’Alexis Piron

13 Volume 8 of Piron’s Œuvres (a separate volume of « Poésies libres »)

12 Œuvres posthumes de Jean-Jacques Rousseau

12 Les Confessions de Jean-Jacques Rousseau

24 Nouvelles découvertes des Russes by William Coxe

12 Le Droit des gens by Emet de Vattel

12 Eléments de l’histoire de France by Claude François Xavier Millot

12 Eléments de l’histoire d’Angleterre by Claude François Xavier Millot

50 « Trois pièces de Mercier » (probably Les Tombeaux de Vérone, La                 Destruction de la Ligue, and L’Habitant de Guadeloupe)

24 Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre-Ambroise-François Choderlos de Laclos  (Evidently Garrigan needed more copies of this work because he had sold out his own edition.)

This exchange took place successfully, although Garrigan complained about “les tracasseries des commissionnaires et notamment du sieur Revol, qui m’a fait éprouver bien des désagréments. »   

After several years of mutually beneficial swapping, the two publishers had established a strong degree of mutual “confiance.”  Garrigan kept the STN informed about what books he was printing, and he continued to make occasional recommendations about what it should pirate.  In March 1783 he urged it to reprint James Cook’s Voyage au Pôle austral et autour du monde, “un excellent livre.”  « Je ne vous cache pas que si vous ne faites cet article, je suis décidé de l’imprimer en 7 volumes in-12.  Je ne m’y déciderai cependant qu’avec votre argument. »

The exchanges came to an abrupt end, however, in June 1783.  Earlier that year, the French authorities had confiscated 21 bales of forbidden books, including several from Samuel Fauche, that were being shipped from Switzerland to Lyon.  It then determined to seal off Switzerland through the use of the Ferme générale, which operated the customs stations at the border.  By an order to the Ferme of June 12, the foreign minister, the comte de Vergennes, required that all foreign shipments of books be sent to Paris for inspection instead of being cleared in provincial chambres syndicales, where, as in the case of Lyon, Swiss publishers had allies among the booksellers who did the inspecting.  A shipment from Neuchâtel to Avignon therefore had to make an impossibly expensive detour to Paris, and the Parisian inspectors, who were arch enemies of foreign pirates, were certain to confiscate anything illegal.

All shipments between the STN and Garrigan—and all its other contacts in Avignon—ceased in the summer of 1783.  Two years later, Garrigan wrote that he was eager to revive their exchanges.  The STN replied that it, too, wanted to resume trading, but it knew of no way to circumvent Vergennes’s order, the “cause fatale” of the interruption in their relations.  At Garrigan’s suggestion, it looked into the possibility of using the Genevan house of Barde, Manget et Cie. to slip bales past the French officials.  But Barde reported that, like the Neuchâtelois, the Genevan publishers could not penetrate the French market.

At the same time, the Avignonnais ran into an insurmountable barrier on their own border.  In 1778 the bookseller-printers petitioned Le Camus de Néville, the director of the book trade in Paris, to treat them as if they were French.  In this way, they could have their stock of pirated books stamped in the chambre syndicale of Montpellier, where they had good connections, and continue to produce contrefaçons in the hope that the edicts of 1777 would not be strictly enforced.  Favarger reported that they expected their lobbying to succeed:

“Ils se flattent aussi que leurs contrefaçons seront estampillées comme dans les villes de la France.  Ils ont fait des représentations à M. de Néville qui, à ce qu’ils disent, les a écoutées favorablement.  Fondée sur ce que le Comtat est entouré de la France, ne pouvant plus rien vendre, cette branche de commerce tomberait entièrement et les ruinerait tous.  Aussi, ils se dépêchent de contrefaire.

But Néville knew full well that Avignon had produced a large proportion of the pirated works that had flooded France.  He ruled that it was foreign territory, whose exports would be subjected to severe surveillance.  In accordance with the decrees of 1777, a new chambre syndicale was created in Nîmes.  An edict of March 1785 required that it had to inspect every bale of books that was exported from Avignon.  Confiscations mounted.  One publishing firm after another went bankrupt or closed.  In 1786, as René Moulinas demonstrated, Avignon had only 25 active presses in contrast to the 60 that had churned out contrefaçons in 1760.  By the time of the Revolution, its pirating industry was dead.