Journal Des Sçavans  :

The First Scientific Journal

Journal Des Sçavans
Journal Des Sçavans

After a bit of incubation on the shelf, I have decided to work my way through these Fourteen Volumes.  I am offering this set  for                        $sold

The volumes I have cover the years 1681-1699. This ‘set’ is made up of volumes nine 1681, ten 1682, eleven 1683, thirteen 1685, fifteen 1687, sixteen 1688, eighteen 1690, nineteen 1691, twenty 1692, twenty-one 1693, twenty-two 1694, twenty-three 1695, twenty-six 1698, and twenty-seven 1699.    But before I dive deep into the content contained in these volumes a little bit about the Journal as a whole.

The Journal des sçavans is considered the earliest academic journal published in Europe. The first issue of the Journal des sçavans appeared on January 5th, 1665.

The Popularity and the importance of the Journal grew  and as is the way it became a valuable commodity So in 1684 an unauthorized edition appeared in Amsterdam  to help fill the Continental appetite for the work. The Amsterdam Journal was printed in a smaller size, being a duodecimo (12mo) format rather than the French quarto. Its content included obituaries of famous men, church history, and legal reports.and of course numerous Illustrations and diagrams.

first volume of the 'set'
first volume of the ‘set’

Quickly followed by the Philosophical Transactions on 6 March 1665, the French journal imposed a new style of writing and new means for disseminating scientific knowledge.  ‘The design of this journal is to make known all that is new in the Republic of Letters’. This ambitious goal is detailed in five points.

First, the editor announces that he will keep the reader informed about new books published in Europe. This feature will not consist in lists of writings, but every report is expected to include a short description of the content of the book and its subject-area.

Second, the journal aims to keep track of the deaths of famous people, which are expected of being announced together with a homage listing their most important books.

Third, new observations, experiments, and discoveries will be mentioned:

dsc_0037“We shall make known the experiments in Physics and Chemistry; which may serve to explain the effects of Nature, the new discoveries made in Arts & Sciences, such as the machines and the useful or curious inventions that can help Mathematics: observations of the Sky, of the Meteors, & what new things Anatomy may find in animals.”

Journal des Sçavans (5 January 1665), ‘L’Imprimeur au lecteur’ i (unpaginated): ‘le dessein de ce Journal estant de faire sçavoir ce qui se passe de nouveau dans la Republique des lettres’.

DSC_0015Fourth the editor announces that the journal will take notice and will disseminate decisions made by the religious and secular courts, as well as censorship pronouncements.

Fifth The compilers state: ‘there won’t be anything happening in Europe that is worth of the curiosity of the men of letters, which cannot be learned from this Journal’.  [ ‘qu’il ne se passé rien dans l’Europe digne de la curiosité de Gens de lettres, qu’on ne puisse apprendre par ce Journal’.]

Of course this is a huge undertaking and certain to fail to the modern eye, yet it is a very good sampling of  the Republic of Letters. The books presented in the Journal des Sçavans cover a large range of topics, providing a strict description of their content without attempts to debate or promote a particular type of philosophy.

Begun on Jan. 5, 1665, and suppressed on Mar. 30 of that year, after the publication of 13 nos. The publication was resumed on Jan. 4, 1666, during which year there appeared 42 nos. In 1667 there appeared 16 nos., 13 in 1668, 4 in 1669, 1 in 1670, 3 in 1671, 8 in 1672, none in 1673, 2 in 1674. From 1675-1723 a number was published weekly or bi-weekly with more or less regularity. In 1687 the publication was suspended for nearly a year. From the beginning of the publication, an edition was published both in Paris and Amsterdam, appearing at the same intervals, except that the Amsterdam edition became a monthly in Jan. 1710./ Printer’s device on t.p. [M23] in Rahir catalogue. Willems,; 1407 { here there is a very informative entry (see below) ; Rahir,; 1480

Sallo, Denis de,; 1626-1669. ; (Founder, Publishing director)
Gallois, Jean,; 1632-1704. ; (Co-founder, Publishing director)
La Roque, Jean-Paul de,; 16..-1691. ; (Publishing director 1675- 1687)
Cousin, Louis,; 1627-1707. ; (Publishing director1687-1701)

In February 2014 the Journal des sçavans was available online from the Gallica digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France Gallica digital library at this linkOffsite Link.

On January 5, 1665 it was published in Paris the first issue of the Journal des Sçavans, under the sponsorship of private lawyer and member of the vestment Denis Sallo, Sieur de a Coudraye supported by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Minister of Economy, who two years later founded the Académie Royale des Sciences (December 1666).

The Journal des Sçavans proclaimed from the beginning its ambition to spread news about the books and the people of “République des lettres,” which not only included scientific research as we know it, as well as intensive discussions on the Cartesian philosophy, filling all areas of thought in this century, both for and against. Descartes was the subject of scholarly talks in Paris and the provinces, and for more than 50 years there was not a single book published in France that did not have a philosophical discussion with Descartes as an object.

see: BANKS, D. Starting science in the vernacular. Notes on some early issues of the Philosophical Transactions and the Journal des Sçavans, 1665-1700. ASp [Online]. 2009, vol. 55. [viewed 24 February 2015]. DOI: 10.4000/asp.213

& DOBRE, M. Early Cartesianism and the Journal des Sçavans, 1665–1671. Studium: Revued’Histoire des Sciences et des Universités. 2012, vol. 4, nº 4, pp. 228-240. . Available from: