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Cartouches des noirs, 1783.

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€7.500,00 EUR
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€7.500,00 EUR


Identification card for Black people in Paris


France: Louis XVI (1774-1792); Charles La Croix Castries (1727-1801).

Arrêt du Conseil d’État du Roi, pour le renouvellement des cartouches des noirs & autres gens de couleur qui sont à Paris.

[colophon:] Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1783.


4°. 4 pp. With a woodcut headpiece and a typographic oblong certificate with woodcut borders.


A very rare copy of an example of an identification card for Black individuals in Paris, a staggering display of institutionalized discrimination.

In 1778 the King of France decreed that all Black individuals must possess identification cards or face deportation to the colonies. This measure, part of the "Police de Noirs" campaign, aimed to tightly regulate and control the lives of non-white populations in France.

Despite the initial decree, enforcement was lax, leading to a renewed proclamation in 1783. This subsequent decree, issued by the King's Council on March 23, acknowledged the previous law's lack of adherence. To rectify this, all Black, mulatto, and other people of color in Paris were mandated to obtain a certificate from the registrar's office within a fortnight. The template for this certificate was provided in the decree, with a fixed fee of 10 sous payable to the Admiralty registrar. Failure to comply carried the same penalties outlined in the original decree of January 11, 1778.

These identification cards served as tools for tracking and controlling the movements of Black individuals, particularly those who were enslaved, within the French capital. They were utilized for various administrative purposes, including taxation, labor management, and surveillance, perpetuating the systemic oppression and marginalization of non-white populations in France.

Condition: minor browning, otherwise in excellent condition.


Sabin 75056.

Sue Peabody. 'Erosion of the Police des Noirs', ‘There Are No Slaves in France’: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime. New York, 1997; online edn, Oxford Academic, 3 Oct. 2011.


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