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l'Armee Francaise

Lucian Rousselot published his famous series of uniform plates, L'Armée Française - ses uniformes, son armament, son équipement, over a thirty year period between 1941 and 1971. When he undertook this project in 1941, he was faced with the incredible problem of finding art supplies in German-occupied Paris and the story goes that German officers, themselves passionate collectors and uniformologists supplied him!

This series of plates, while probably the best source on the regulation dress of the French Army, only covers selected periods.  The 1st Empire, which was Rousselot's passion, is amply covered and the primary focus of the series. The Armies of Louis XV and XVI and the 3rd Empire receive some coverage, but the collector looking outside those periods will have to go elsewhere. 

Each plate is in full color, size 32X24 cm folded and 32X48 opened up, with 4 pages of text (in French) included. The originals were hand-printed and have been long out of print. In the late 1950’s and through the 60’s, the earlier plates were reprinted, also by hand, and are virtually indistinguishable from the first printings except for the dates. In 1978 the Napoleonic portion was reprinted photomechanically on glossy paper and does not have the color quality of the original printings, and in 1987 a small Parisian model figures store undertook the reprinting of the rest of the plates but this was never completed. 

Today the full series of 106 plates in good condition and consisting of the printings prior to the 1978 reprints can only be found at antiquarian bookstores or auctions and is quite rare. Most often, the plates come up for sale individually and the prices range quite considerably, partly depending on which edition is being offered, but also, curiously (at least to this observer), on the period, with the plates representing the Louis XV period more difficult to find.