Question for the French collectors


#1

Here’s a question for any of the French collectors out there. I have an opportunity to visit Paris in a couple months and will have two days free to do some archives research. I am interested in French ammunition and weapons development in the 1860’s and 1870’s. Do any of you know someone at the Musée de l’Armée? Is there a better place to go? I do not know anything about where government archives are kept in France so your help is greatly appreciated.

Also, where could I find patent information? Does the government patent office keep historical records on past patents?

Thanks muchly! Email me off the board if you like.


#2

Dear Wombat,
Most of the accessible (if a six month appointment can be considered accessible) records of French Military designs are in the Centre of Military Archives (Technical) at the old Arsenal, MAC (Chatellerault) in central France.

And then only certain records can be copied (France has still some very Byzantine rules regarding “state secrets”).

Do not expect to walk in and get things done in a couple of days…it may take a year or two to see if the stuff you want is actually there, then to classify it as “accessible”, and then get photocopies or Microfilms (Most is still not in Digital Format). Whilst the records go back to pre-Revolutinary times ( 1789) there are large gaps, especially in the French Airforce records towards WW II.

The Musee de l’Armee at Les Invalides (Left Bank, just a short walk from the Tour Eiffel) has a very good display of all French Weaponry and History…but much of the Archival material will not be there. You can try your luck, anyway, either on the spot, or by prior contact with someone in the Museum Hierarchy.

Planned visits when they are expecting you are to be preferred. Otherwise, you will be treated with typical Parisian Disdain…especially if you don’t speak French…even bad High-school French will get you by…“at least you try!”…I still get funny looks because I speak French with a Mediterranean Accent ( Riviera) rather than the “High-falutin’” Parisian twang. Good thing I have very good friends in Paris who forgive me for my “furriner” ways.

Good luck in your trip. Visit the Louvre Museum as well…the paintings are Superb. Walk down to the Etoile ( where the Arch is, at the end of the Champs Elysee, and see the view that Adolf Hitler saw in 1940…) and go to the Place de la Concord…now with an Egyptian Obelisk, once the place with the Guillotine during the Terror…

AS to Bookstores, there is Editions Le Hussard ( Gazette des Armes) over on the Left Bank, which has a wide array of good, illustrated books on all periods of French Military History (in French, of course)

Regards, et Bon Voyage,

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#3

[quote=“DocAV”]Dear Wombat,
Most of the accessible (if a six month appointment can be considered accessible) records of French Military designs are in the Centre of Military Archives (Technical) at the old Arsenal, MAC (Chatellerault) in central France.

[color=#FF0000]You have also very important archives near paris in Vincennes[/color]

And then only certain records can be copied (France has still some very Byzantine rules regarding “state secrets”).

[color=#FF0000]No, only a 20 (30) years waiting period for military documents[/color]

Do not expect to walk in and get things done in a couple of days…it may take a year or two to see if the stuff you want is actually there, then to classify it as “accessible”, and then get photocopies or Microfilms (Most is still not in Digital Format). Whilst the records go back to pre-Revolutinary times ( 1789) there are large gaps, especially in the French Airforce records towards WW II.
[color=#FF0000]Yes and no.
Once you know where the documents you are looking for are, it is very quick. You ask the box and they bring it.
To help you you have a listing of the documents;
The problem being to know what you are looking for !!!
Example: you want designs of the 7.92 ctges.
They could be in the trials of 1930, or in the captured german archives or in the manufactures from sfm, and so on.

You can’t do anymore xeros copies or scans of the pages of a book;
But you can will xeros copy or scan any loose page.[/color]

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.[/quote]

Conclusion :
Forget it about archives in chatellereau or vincennes, it will be too difficult and time consumming for you.

About the patents, now.
They are not in the above archives but at the INPI in Paris.

It will take you two days by each year you want to see.
Here again, forget it !
Furthermore it will be time consumming for nothing, all the patents relative to guns and ctges having already being xeros copied.

It is better for you to visit the different museum.

JP


#4

[color=#FF0000]The problem being to know what you are looking for !!![/color]

Ah, that is the problem. I don’t know what documents are available.

For the record I am particularly interested in anything related to Boxer, the Tabatiere musket, the mitrailleuse, and the early years of Hotchkiss. That covers a lot.

Perhaps I will just use this trip to explore. In the meantime I am definitely trying to learn some French!

JP - do you know where I can find copies of the patents? I am interested in any from 1850 to about 1875 related to breech-loading cartridges.

Also - the American National Archives has documents related to granting patents - letters from inventors and so on. Are such things available at INPI?