Des mitrailleurs.

Rapports et expériences particulièrement relatifs au Mitrailleur Christophe & Montigny. Notes et observations par M. O. Malherbe.

Liege: Léon de Thier, 1871 Stock Code: 127071

An important early work on the mitrailleuse

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First and sole edition of this important and notably scarce work, published in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War: WorldCat locates only four copies (Bibliothek der Stiftung Deutsches Historisches Museum, Het Legermuseum Delft, National Library of Sweden, Royal Danish Library). Malherbe, described on the title page as ingénieur-mécanicien, gives an account of the experimental trials that took place in Vienna in November 1870 of the machine gun developed by Louis Christophe and the Belgian engineer Joseph Montigny. "The first machine gun that attracted general attention in Europe was the Montigny mitrailleuse, introduced into the French army by the Emperor Napoleon III on the eve of the war with Prussia in 1870. It was a very clumsy weapon, and the methods in which it was employed were generally so utterly devoid of any tactical knowledge that the result of the experiment was to bring machine guns in general into discredit for some years to come... The Montigny mitrailleuse was secretly manufactured in the arsenal at Meudon in 1869, and the first months of 1870. Only the officers and men who were to work it were allowed to handle or even see it... In 1869 Major Fosbery, on behalf of the India Office, investigated the claims of the Montigny type of machine gun manufactured in Belgium, and made a favourable report on it. The adoption of the mitrailleuse by the French Imperial Army in 1870 called general attention to the question of machine guns... In the experimental trials there was competitive firing at various ranges and under various conditions between Gatlings of.45 and.65 inches, a Montigny machine gun, 9-pounder M. L. and 12-pounder B. L. field-pieces firing shrapnel and segment shell, and small squads of riflemen using the Snider and the Martini-Henry... Throughout the Gatling showed a marked superiority over the Montigny mitrailleuse" (Longstaff & Atteridge, The Book of the Machine Gun, 1917, pp. 16 & 132). Included here is Malherbe's translation of "Des canons dits a orgue" (The so-called organ guns) by Alfred Kropatscheck, a general in the Austrian army, who was responsible for the design of several rifles and revolvers. Provenance: from the library of the French military base at Tlemcen, Algeria.

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Octavo (222 x 145 mm). Contemporary brown quarter sheep, gilt banded smooth spine lettered direct, marbled sides and endpapers.


25 folding plates (one of a cross section of the mitrailleuse, the remainder showing targets and the results of accuracy trials held at Vienna in 1870), wood-engraved plate (by Duverger) of the mitrailleuse on blank before the Preface.


Library stamps of the "Cercle Militaire de Tlemcen" (similarly gilt lettered at foot of spine); another heat-shape stamp on title page neatly erased Some wear to extremities of spine, scattered foxing. A very good copy.


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