Pierre Marcel Augustin Chevallier, 1797 - 1841
Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin, 1819 - 1883
Adélaïde Amanda Queslin, 1838 - 1898
A. Fontana, 18?? - 19??

by Brian Stevenson
last updated January, 2017

Nineteenth century Paris was home to two important families of optical workers that had very similar surnames, Chevallier and Chevalier. Many published histories mix the two families together, incorrectly assuming that they were close relatives. The family Chevalier, spelled with one “L”, consisted of the father-son-grandson trio of Vincent Chevalier (1770-1841), Charles Chevalier 1804-1859), and Arthur Chevalier (1830-1872). The family Chevallier, spelled with two “LL”, was made famous by Jean Gabriel Augustin Chevallier (1778-1848), who was Optician to the King, and often signed his products “L’Ingéneur Chevallier”. Further complicating matters, J.G.A. Chevallier had a son who operated an independent scientific instrument business, Pierre Marcel Augustin Chevallier, who also signed products as “L’Ingéneur Chevallier”. Only the addresses differentiate some products of the father and son, J.G.A. being located at 1 quai de l'Horloge and P.M.A. at 1 Rue de la Bourse.

The businesses of the Chevallier father and son were taken over by Alexandre Victor Ducray (1810-1883) and Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin, respectively. The two competitors added further to the confusion, each advertising himself as the sole successor to Chevallier (both technically correct, although I suspect that Queslin sought to benefit from confusion between his predecessor and the far better known J.G.A. Chevallier).

This essay focuses on the son, P.M.A. Chevallier, and on Amédée Queslin and his successors. J.G.A. Chevallier’s business will be addressed in the near future, as will also the Chevaliers.


Figure 1. A drum-pattern microscope, signed “Chevallier Rue de la Bourse a Paris”, indicating construction by Pierre Marcel Augustin Chevallier. It was, therefore, produced before November, 1841. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet auction site.

 


Figure 2. A drum-pattern microscope signed “Maison Chevallier L’Ingr Queslin Optn rue de la Bourse Paris”.

 


Figure 3. Drum-pattern microscope with rack-and-pinion coarse focus, signed “Maison Chevallier Queslin L’Ingr Opticien Paris”. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet auction site.

 

Pierre Marcel Augustin Chevallier was born in 1797, the elder boy of the five children of Jean Gabriel Augustin and Thérèse Mélanie Chevallier (née Cotel). Presumably, he trained with his father, learning to manufacture optical and scientific apparatus.

Young Chevallier set up his own shop between 1833 and 1836; he is not listed in the 1833 Almanach du Commerce de Paris, but is recorded in the 1837 edition as having an optical business at 1 Rue de la Bourse (Figure 4) In 1836, Chevallier published a pamphlet that described his "Gleuco-oenometre" (Figure 7).

The presence of two optical businesses in Paris named “Chevallier” evidently created immediate confusion. Antoine and William Galignani's 1839 New Paris Guide recommended optician “Chevallier, mathematical-instrument-maker and optician to the King”, and concluded with the statement “M. Chevallier has no other depot either in Paris or the Departments”.

P.M.A. Chevallier died on November 10, 1841, being only 43-44 years old. He left his wife with two young daughters. The Chevalliers evidently owned the optical shop at 1 Rue de la Bourse, as his widow, Marie, was assigned rental rights for the space.

On February 16, 1842, Marie Chevallier was authorized to rent “à Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin, ingénieur opticien, et Sophie Joséphine Dupuy, son épouse, demeurant 1, rue de la Bourse, de boutique, arrière boutique, divers lieux, au rez-de-chaussée et à l'entresol, chambre de bonne, d'une maison située 29, place de la Bourse et 1, rue de la Bourse. Loyer annuel de 3 000 francs, payable par trimestre” (“to Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin, optician, and Sophie Joséphine Dupuy, his wife, residing at 1 Rue de la Bourse, shop, back shop, various places, on the ground floor and the entry, maid's room, of a house located at 29 Place de la Bourse and 1 Rue de la Bourse. Annual rent of 3,000 francs, payable quarterly”).

An unconfirmed source states that Amédée Queslin was born in 1819; that date is consistent with verified facts of his life. Queslin married Sophie Joséphine Dupuy in December, 1837. Their marriage contact listed him as an “ouvrier opticien” (optioncal worker), residing at 1 Rue Payenne. Queslin is not listed as operating a business in the 1837 Almanach du Commerce de Paris, suggesting that he then worked for someone else. The couple had at least one child, daughter Adélaïde Amanda Queslin, born on November 30, 1838.

Not long after opening his shop, in 1843, Queslin published a book of instructions for daguerreotype photography (Figure 8). It also contained a list of instruments produced and supplied by Queslin, including cameras and photographic supplies, microscopes, telescopes, and many types of other optical and scientific apparatus (Figure 9). This implies that Queslin took on Chevallier’s business with a broad, established skill set.

Also that year, Queslin was selling “Doctor Roth’s” automatic calculator (Figure 10). That device was invented during the early 1840s by David “Didier” Roth (1800-1885).

In addition to Quelsin’s optical shop, 1 Rue de la Bourse included several other operatis ons. An 1847 directory listed that address for Queslin and four other businesses, including a tailor and a dentist.

Amédée’s wife divorced him in 1847. Government files recorded “Procès-verbal d'ouverture des opérations de liquidation des reprises de Sophie Joséphine Dupuy, demeurant 44, rue Blomet, contre son mari, Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin, opticien, demeurant 1, rue de la Bourse, dont elle est séparée de corps et de biens par jugement par la quatrième chambre du tribunal civil de la Seine en date du 2 juillet 1847” (“Minutes of the opening of the liquidation proceedings of Sophie Joséphine Dupuy, residing at 44, rue Blomet, against her husband, Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin, optician, residing at 1, rue de la Bourse, of which she is separated Property by judgment of the Fourth Chamber of the Civil Court of the Seine dated July 2, 1847”).

Queslin’s daughter, Adélaïde Amanda, married Alfred Jean François Baserga on May 21, 1860. Baserga (1833-1901) came from a family of scientific instrument makers, most noted for their barometers. The 1862 Almanach included “Baserga fils (A.), instr. de physique et de chimie” along with “Queslin (A.), opticien”, indicating that the Basergas lived with and worked alongside Amédée for some period of time.

For many years, as both a service and an advertisement, daily temperature readings to local publications were provided from readings of “le thermométre de la maison Queslin, rue de la Bourse”.

Amédée Queslin died in 1883.

Directories of Paris indicate that the Queslin-Chevallier business continued at Rue de la Bourse until at least 1898 (Figure 13). The operation was probably run by Amanda Queslin Baserga and/or Alfred Baserga. Amanda’s 1898 death record shows that her residence was then 1 Rue de la Bourse. Alfred Baserga died in 1901, in the Alfortville section of Paris.

The “Maison A. Chevallier” business was then acquired by one “A. Fontana”. He merged the operation with that of Charles Gaggini in November, 1902. Investigations are ongoing to learn more information on Fontana.

 


Figure 4. Entry on Chevallier, 1 Rue de la Bourse, from the 1837 Alamanch du Commerce de Paris.

 


Figure 5. Barometer, signed “A. Chevallier Ingnr Opticien, Rue de la Bourse No. 1 á Paris”. Images courtesy of Georges Tock.

 


Figure 6. Meridian canon, signed “A. Chevallier Ingnr Opt Rue de la Bourse á Paris”. Currently in the Przypkowski Museum of Horology, Jedrzejow, Poland.

 


Figure 7. Cover of P.M.A. Chevallier’s 1836 pamphlet on his Gleuco-Oenometre.

 


Figure 8. Within a year and a half after acquiring Chevallier’s business, Amédée Queslin published a book on daguerreotype photography. Note that he described his business as “Successor dé Chevallier”. J.G.A. Chevallier (the father) had sold his business to son-in-law Alexandre Ducray in early 1842, and Ducray was also advertising himself as the successor to Chevallier.

 


Figure 9. List of optical and scientific items that were available from Queslin in 1843, from his book on photography.

 


Figure 10. An 1843 advertisement for Roth’s automatic calculator.

 


Figure 11. A telescope signed “Maison Chevallier Queslin Ingr Opticien Rue de la Bourse No.1 Paris”. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet auction site.

 


Figure 12. Opera binoculars signed “A Queslin” on the eyepieces. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet auction site.

 


Figure 13. Excerpts from the 1898 Almanach du Commerce de Paris, indicating that the Chevallier-Queslin shop was still in business, and offered a range of scientific instruments and optical supplies. It was probably operated by Amanda Queslin and Alfred Baserga.

 


Figure 14. A pocket microscope, signed "Mon Chevallier, A. Fontana Sr, R. de la Bourse 1, Paris". It is one of the few known instruments from Fontana (ca. 1900 - 1902). The mercury thermometer is approximately 2 inches / 5 cm long, mounted on ivory, and encased in a burl wood case, approximately 4 inches / 10 cm when folded shut.

 

Acknowledgments

Many thanks to Georges Tock for generously providing images of a P.M.A. Chevallier barometer and for helpful historical information.

 

Resources

Almanach du Commerce de Paris (1833) page 213

Almanach du Commerce de Paris (1837) page 238

Almanach du Commerce de Paris (1862) page 1218

Almanach du Commerce de Paris (1898) pages 2010, 2016, and 2019

Annuaire Général du Commerce et de l'Industrie (1847) “Queslin (A.), ingénieur-opticien, rue de la Bourse, 1”, page 247

Annuaire Général du Commerce et de l'Industrie (1855) “Queslin (A.), ingénieur-opticien, Bourse, 1”, page 379

Annuaire Général du Commerce et de l'Industrie (1855) “Baserga, construceur d’instruments de physique et chemie, place Dauphine, 24”, page 379

Birth record of Alfred Jean Joseph Baserga (1833) accessed through ancestry.com

Birth record of Adélaïde Amanda Queslin (1838) accessed through ancestry.com

Chevallier, A. (1836) Instruction sur le Gleuco-Oenometre, A. Belin, Paris

Death record of Amanda Baserga (1898) accessed through ancestry.com

Death record of Alfred Jean Joseph Baserga (1901) accessed through ancestry.com

Galignani, A., and W. Galignani (1839) Galignani's New Paris Guide, A. and W. Galignani and Co., Paris

Gazette des Tribunaux (1843) Advertisement from A. Queslin for Dr. Roth’s automatic calculator, June 13 issue

Journal Officiel de la République Franc̜aise (1880) daily temperatures, provided by Queslin, page 9109 and others

La Presse (1902) "La Maison Ch. Gaggini, opticien, rue de l'Echelle, est réunie a la Maison de l'ingénieur A. Chevallier, A. Fontana, successeur, 1, rue de la Bourse", November 4, 1902, page 4

Marriage record of Pierre Marcel Augustin Chevallier and Marie Rose Mathilde Albert (1836) March 19, accessed through ancestry.com

Marriage contract of Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin and Sophie Joséphine Dupuy (1837) accessed through https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr

Marriage contract of Adélaïde Amanda Queslin and Alfred Jean François (sic) Baserga (1860) accessed through https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr

Marriage records of Adélaïde Amanda Queslin and Alfred Jean Joseph Baserga (1860) accessed through ancestry.com

Queslin, Amédée (1843) Daguerreotype Rendu Facile, Queslin, Paris

Record of inventory after the death of Thérèse Mélanie Cotel Chevallier (1841) accessed through https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr

Record of inventory after the death of Pierre Marcel Augustin Chevallier (1841) accessed through https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr

Record of assignment of rental rights by Marie Rose Mathilde Albert, widow of Pierre Marcel Augustin Chevallier, to Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin, optician (1842) accessed through https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr

Record of the sale of business from Jean Gabriel Augustin Chevallier to Alexandre Victor Ducray, optical engineer, and Marie Louise Mélanie Chevallier, his wife, residing at 1, Quai de l'Horloge (1842) accessed through https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr

Record of the opening of the liquidation proceedings of Sophie Joséphine Dupuy, residing at 44, rue Blomet, against her husband, Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin, optician, residing at 1, rue de la Bourse (1847) accessed through https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr

Record of rental agreement from Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin, optician engineer, residing at 1 rue de la Bourse, an apartment on the fourth floor and various places, on the ground floor and the mezzanine of a house located 29, place de la Bourse and 1, rue de la Bourse. Annual rent of 5,300 francs, payable quarterly (1864) accessed through https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr

Record noting the death of Pierre Louis Amédée Queslin (1883) accessed through https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr

 

Note: several early issues of the Almanach du Commerce de Paris can be freely acquired in their entireties from http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb32688404r/date and http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb32698036g/date