London, and is in Paris, 1788-1790.
15 parts bound in 15 volumes in-12. I/ 1 engraving, (2) ll. 240 pp. ; II/ 1 engraving, pp. 241 to 484, III/ 1 engraving, pp. 485 to 720 ; IV/ 1 engraving, pp. 721 to 956, 1 disconnected quire ; V/ 1 engraving, pp. 957 to 1191  ; VI/ 1 engraving, pp. 1197 to 1440 ; VII/ 1 engraving, pp. 1441 to 1680, small lack of paper in the margin of p. 1449 without reaching the text; VIII/ 1 engraving, pp. 1681 to 1920, small lack of paper in margin of pp. 1763 and 1839 without reaching the text; IX/ 1 engraving, pp. 1921 to 2160; X/ 1 engraving, pp. 2161 to 2400, small lack of paper not reaching the text p. 2355; XI/ 1 engraving, pp. 2401 to 2640, lack of paper not reaching the text pp. 2627 and 2639; XII/ 1 engraving, pp. 2641 to 2880; XIII/ 1 engraving, pp. 2881 to 3120; XIV/ 2 engravings, pp. 3121 to 3360, small hole p. 3181; XV/ 1 engraving, pp. 1 to 264 numbered 164, numbering error. Total of 16 engravings.
Half fawn roan, flat spines richly decorated with gilt patterns and fillets, red lettering pieces, mottled edges. Contemporary binding.
164 x 95 mm.
First edition of one of Restif’s most sought-after works, presenting the first 14 parts at the correct dates, and well complete with the rare 15th part in first edition.
Jacob, Restif de la Bretonne, pp. 258-300; Rives Child, pp. 303-306.
The 16th part is not included here. It was not published by Restif until 1794 and almost all copies were destroyed for fear of the police committee of the Paris commune.
The bibliographer Jacob affirmed thus: “one can ensure that there are not 10 copies of it“.
“The nocturnal spectator is Restif, who can be recognized in particular with his large hat, in the first figure. Among other curious subjects, Restif presents his daughter to the countess Fanny de Beauharnais at a dinner party at Grimod de la Reynière’s house…” (Cohen, 882-883).
Restif, Le Spectateur nocturne, traces in the first 14 parts an extraordinary picture of Paris before the Revolution.
The edition is added in first issue with 16 (of 17, without the plate Le Billard) unsigned engravings by Binet in which Restif is almost always represented in his characteristic nightwatcher costume.
The plate Le Billard (part VIII) was rarely added and is missing in most copies.
The 15th part, published in 1790, two years later, is of exceptional interest for the historian: it is, in a way, Restif’s personal diary during the revolution.
It has a different title from the others: ‘La Semaine nocturne: Sept Nuits de Paris; qui peuvent servir de Suite aux III-CLXXX déjà publiés, Ouvrage servant à l’Histoire du Jardin du Palais-Royal’.
“It constitutes a document of a unique value on this troubled time; it is necessary to read in one go these 600 breathless pages, hardly interrupted by small news in the taste of the ‘Contemporaines’; one will see there how much the French conscience was psychically torn to have to execute the one, who, the day before, was called the Father of the Nation “.
This personal diary and this virulent description of the Revolution earned Restif, and Marat in particular, the right to appear before the Police Committee of the Paris Commune.
This great work, essentially Parisian, has always been sought after, even though Restif’s works were still disparaged, neglected and almost unknown.
it is a unique book that represents the moral physiognomy of Paris at the end of the 18th century.
Restif’s works are very difficult to find in nice condition.
The original edition is complete with the rare 15th part, preserved in its strictly uniform contemporary binding, a rare condition.