Scope and Contents
The papers of Jean-Baptiste Adanson consists of four volumes, 12 quarto leaves and 8 folio leaves, all previously unpublished. Adanson's manuscripts are devoted to the deciphering of hieroglyphics and were drawn from notes and sketches made during his voyages in Egypt between 1762 and 1782. The volumes are illustrated with 61 full-page pen and ink-wash drawings by the author. The drawings are finely detailed and the holographic writings are completely legible. The writings are in French.
From information in the Dictionnaire de Biographie Française, it is known that there were plans to print Adanson's work as early as 1785. The project was never realized, and apparently, the unpublished manuscripts remained with the family until 1995. Other of Adanson's drawings and paintings are part of the collections of the Cabinet des Etampes, Bibliotheque Nationale.
In the collection are:"First Book, concerning the Hieroglyphs." An introduction and then are 20 full-page pen and ink-wash drawings offering a general view or details of ancient Egyptian statues and monuments with hieroglyphic inscription located at Alexandria or environs. Of interest is the obelisk of Cleopatra, later removed to New York City where it has remained since 1880. Adanson's drawing must be one of the earliest representations.
"Second Book, concerning the hieroglyphs." An introduction and 21 full-page pen and ink-wash drawings including 331 symbolic figures reportedly copied after an ancient manuscript at Thebes.
"Third Book, concerning the Amulets and others." 19 full-page pen and ink-wash drawings.
Fourth Book, concerning the symbolic figures of the ancient Egyptians." Primarily devoted to the Horus god and his various hieroglyphic representations.
12 quarto leaves, 8 folio leaves: Containing "translation" of further hieroglyphs.