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The Paris Gas Company

Conduites Montantes [Rising Pipes]. Album No. 2

  • An elegant and unusual manuscript of information graphics “drafted and submitted” by the head of the Bureau of Rising Gas Pipes of the Parisian Gas Lighting and Heating Company in 1883.

    The Parisian Gas Lighting and Heating Company (also known as the Paris Gas Company) was founded in 1855 and “quickly developed into one of France's greatest industrial enterprises, an exemplar of the new industrial capitalism that was beginning to transform the French economy. The PGC supplied at least half the coal gas consumed in France through the 1870s and became the city's single largest employer of clerical and factory labor” (Berlanstein, Big Business & Industrial Conflict in France).

    The term “conduites montantes,” or rising pipes, refers to pipes that enter buildings from the street and rise up within the walls to distribute gas throughout a structure. In this manuscript, the bureau charts the increase in these types of utility connections, an obvious indication of the growth in demand for natural gas heating and lighting. The manuscript comprises a title page, contents leaf, and 14 large, precise hand-drawn charts that chronicle the company’s activities in this regard. The first diagram, for example, is a pie chart showing the number of rising pipes fitted, beginning in the the period 1859-1863 and continuing yearly to 1882, with the number growing from 273 between 1859 and 1863, to 1,430 in 1882. Several types of chart are included, including bar and line graphs, tables, a fan chart, and circular charts. Two of the most attractive graphics are simplified maps of Paris that use various sizes of black circle to indicate the number of rising pipes and gas subscribers in each arrondissement. The manuscript is titled “Vol. 2”, and it is unclear what the first volume contained or whether any others were created. A wonderful example of 19th-century information graphics and a significant historical record of Paris and its modernisation.

  • Paris: Compagnie Parisienne D'Eclairage et de Chauffage par le Gaz, October, 1883.

    Folio. Original black half morocco, spine gilt in compartments, title to upper board gilt, marbled sides and endpapers. Manuscript comprised of title, contents leaf, and 14 double-page or folding charts and diagrams. Binding a little rubbed with some worn spots at the extremities. Contents fresh and clean save for occasional toning or staining along the extreme edges of the leaves. Excellent condition.

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