“Though many collectors pick up odds and ends that fit within the categories they collect, Maurice Car was different,” said James Gannon, director of rare books at Heritage Auctions. “He really went after material with substantive content.”
From Sir Isaac Newton’s “New Theory of Light and Colors,” handwritten in 1672, to correspondence of scientific luminaries, Car’s collection contains materials relevant to findings from ages of human discovery. It contains items such as Andre-Marie Ampere’s revelations on the human nervous system; Antoine Lomet’s letters discussing the calculation of the radius of the Earth; a treatise on the theory of perspective with handwritten tables and drawings by astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille; a letter from Augustin-Jean Fresnel to Francois Arago developing a “mechanical theory of light,” and letters from Louis Pasteur relating to experiments and the rabies vaccine.
Car and his artist wife, Fanny, lived in Paris and then moved to Washington, D.C., in 1940. Even after this transition, the Cars maintained relationships within the Parisian art community and built much of their collection through their friendships, as well as auctions.