Opuscule sur la vinification, traitant des vices des méthodes usitées pour la fabrication des vins, et des avantages du procédé de M.lle Élisabeth Gervais, brevetée du gouvernement par ordonnance de S.M. Louis XVIII, pour la même fabrication.

Montpelier: de l'Imprimerie de J.-G. Tournel, place Louis XVI, no 57, 1821.

Octavo, 136, [3] pages. Advertisement; table of contents. Illustrated. Second edition, expanded, styled "Nouvelle Edition" with the addition of the letters of Neufchateau and of Chaptal. The first edition was issued in two Montpelier printings, both in 1820. ~ Elisabeth Gervais was the earliest woman known to have produced a technological innovation in winemaking (the first recorded winemaker was a woman, Siduri, who appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh in the 4th Millenium B.C.). Gervais’ method consists of using a valve to allow expanding gasses to escape from the bottle or other vessel, while allowing no air from the outside in. Her brother, Jean-Antoine, records the method and in this book applies in Elisabeth’s name to Louis XVIII for a patent. Though the process was granted a patent by Louis XVIII, Gervais’ invention was attacked on the one hand as not having been hers: some claimed the real inventor of the process was Don Nicolas Casbois, a physics professor and member of the Academy of Metz, or “Fabroni, or Goyon de la Plombanie, who in 1757 described an analogous process; or from the Neapolitan Porla, or the German chemist Becker who lived in the beginning of the 17th century.” (Thiebaut de Berneaud, The Vine Dresser’s Theoretical and Practical Manual, (New York: Canfield, 1829). On the hand, Gervais’ invention was attacked as being ineffectual, often in an overtly sexist manner, “…and we have only to add that Madame (not Mademoiselle) Gervais’s patent is not worth sixpence, whatever may be said of the humbug attempted in this country.” (David Booth. The Art of Brewing on Scientific Principles (1824)). In the same year, Alexander Henderson in his influential History of Ancient and Modern Wines, goes to some length to undercut the claims of this invention. Whatever the originality and usefulness of her invention, it seems likely that much of the vitriol aimed at Elizabeth Gervais was the result of her sex. Wine chemist and founder of the Club Oenologique Anton Massel writes, “One wonders if women, who were, after all, familiar with household chores like cooking and preserving food, might not have achieved better results earlier, in terms of wine quality, had they been given the chance.” (The Wine Pioneers (2008)). A few neat, early ink annotations to endpapers; lacking rear free endpaper. In brown, paste-paper covered boards over half calf; rubbed and worn at the spine, but sound. Still, near very good. [OCLC locates eleven copies of this second edition, and seventeen copies of both printings of the first; Simon BV, page 19; Oberlé BB 163-4].

Price: $500.00