PARIS. Action. black. No 671. Folds and some discolouration of the vellum, especially on the sides. Largely intact paper seal. The story of the Canal du Midi began as early as 1652, when Pierre-Paul Riquet sent a letter to Colbert, with his ideas for a canal to link the Atlantic (the Garonne River, above Bordeaux) with the Mediterranean (near Narbonne). The idea was adopted with enthusiasm by Louis XIV, and the canal was built by Riquet between 1667-81. It was a marvel for its time. It has 65 locks, and is 240 km long. But being only 2m deep, it cannot handle modern traffic, and is used for pleasure only these days. This 'action' was apparently granted to an army officer (Jean Martin Beekmann, capitaine de première classe) after a decree by Napoleon in 1810, at which time the Emperor owned the majority of the shares, and distributed a large number to favoured army officers. The 'action' could not be sold, but was an entitlement to an income of 500 francs annually from the canal. It seems that the canal revenues were a vehicle for paying annuities to favoured persons. In 1823 the Riquet family recovered part of the ownership of the canal, but in 1897 the French state bought the whole property. This is by far the earliest type of Canal du Midi paper we have ever seen and is extremely rare. Personally signed by Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambacérès (1753-1824), 1st Duke of Parma. He was a French lawyer and statesman during the French Revolution and the First Empire. In 1799, Cambacérès became Second Consul (with Napoleon Bonaparte being the First Consul). He is best remembered as the author of the Napoleonic code, which still forms the basis of civil law in France and a number of other countries. However, as Napoleon became increasingly obsessed with military affairs, Cambacérès became the de facto domestic head of government of France. As a moderate republican, he was able to survive not only the most radical period of the French Revolution, but also the rise and defeat of Napoleon. After the restoration of the Monarchy, he was exiled for 2 years (1816-1818) after which he returned to a quiet life in Paris until his death in 1824.
Date: 9 July 1810
Startprice: € 800