The Development of the French Collection

In October, 2001, Bonhams & Brooks (now Bonhams), a leading London auction house, offered an impressive collection of law books from the Birmingham Law Society. Among the purchases made by the Library was a large collection of 19th century French legal treatises and a group of coutumes. In March, 2002, the collection of the Bibliothèque du Château de Razat become available through auction at the gallery of Libert & Castor in Paris. This exceptional collection was assembled during the latter part of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century by Pierre Théodore Noël du Payrat (1761-1832), the châtelain of the Perigordian estate of Razat. A noted jurist and Counsellor to the King, Payrat would later become a member of the Conseil des Cinq-Cents (The Council of Five Hundred), one of the revolutionary legislative assemblies established by the Constitution of 1795. Carefully preserved by his descendants, Payrat's collection survived intact until its dispersal at auction in 2002. At that time, the Library was fortunate to acquire virtually all of the important works on French law from the Château de Razat collection, true cultural treasures which form the heart of the French Collection which the Library continues to build.