Vaillant, John Foi

, a great medallist, to whom France was indebted for the science of medals, and Lewis XIV. for one half of his cabinet, was born at Beauvais, May the 24th, 1632. He lost his father when he was three years old, and fell under the care of an uncle, a brother of his mother, who educated him, and made him his heir. He was trained with a view of succeeding to a magistracy which his uncle possessed; but, being too young for this when his uncle died, he changed his views, and applied himself to physic, in which faculty he was admitted doctor at twenty-four. He had as yet discovered no particular inclination for the study of medals; but an occasion now presented itself, which induced him to engage in it. A farmer in the neighbourhood of Beauvais found a great quantity of ancient medals, and carried them to Mr. Vaiilant, who examined them at first slightly and in a cursory way, but afterwards sat down to study them with attention; and his taste for medals increased with the discoveries he made | of their nature and use, till he devoted himself almost entirely to them.

Being called to Paris about business, he paid a visit to Mr. Seguin, who had a fine cabinet of medals, and was also greatly attached to this study. Seguin, from their conferences, soon perceived the superior genius of Vaillaiu, which seemed to him to promise much in a science yet in its infancy; and pressed him to make himself a little more known. He accordingly visited some antiquaries of reputation in medailic science; till at length, falling under the notice of the minister Colbert, he received a commission to travel through Italy, Sicily, and Greece, in quest of medals proper for the king’s cabinet; and after spending some years in this pursuit, returned with as many medals as made the king’s cabinet superior to any one in Europe, though great additions have been made to it since. Colbert engaged him to travel a second time; and accordingly, in 1674, he went and embarked at Marseilles with several other gentlemen, who proposed, as well as himself, to be at Rome at the approaching jubilee. But unfortunately, on the second day of their sailing, they were captured by an Algerine corsair; and it was not until a slavery of near five months, that Vaillant was permitted to return to France, and strong remonstrances having been made by the French court, he recovered at the same time twenty gold medals which had been taken from him. He then embarked in a vessel bound for Marseilles, and was carried on with a favourable wind for two days, when another corsair appeared, which, in spite of all the sail they could make, bore down upon them within the reach of cannonshot. Vaillant, dreading the miseries of a fresh slavery, resolved, however, to secure the medals which he had received at Algiers, and had recourse to the strange expedient of swallowing them. But a sudden turn of the wind freed them from this adversary, and cast them upon the coasts of Catalonia; where, after expecting to run aground every moment, they at length fell among the sands at the mouth of the Rhone. Vailiant got on shore in a skiff, but felt himself extremely incommoded with the medals he had swallowed, of which, however, nature afterwards relieved him.

Upon his arrival at Paris, he received fresh instructions, and made another and a more successful voyage. He penetrated into the very heart of Egypt and Persia, and there | found new treasures, which made ample amends for all his fatigues and perils. He was greatly caressed and rewarded at his return. When Lewis XIV. gave a new form to the academy of inscriptions in 1701, Vaillant was at first made associate; and the year after pensionary, upon the death of M. Charpentier. He died of an apoplexy, October 23, 1706, in his 76th year. He had two wives, and by virtue of a dispensation from the pope had married two sisters, by whom he had several children, and one son. The first of 1m works was published at Paris in 1674, 1. “Numisroata imperatorum RomanoYum praestantiora a Julio Ceesare ad Posthninuni & tyrannos,” 4to. A second edition, with great additions, was printed 1694, in two volumes 4to; and afterwards a tnird. In this last he omitted a great number of medals which he had discovered to be spurious; but neglected to mention what cabinets each medal was to he found in, as he had done in the second edition, which has made the second generally preferred to it. 2. “Seleucidarnm imperium, seu historia regum Syriæ, ad fidem numismatutum accommodata,Paris, 1681, 4to. This work throws much light upon an obscure part of ancient history, that of the kings of Syria, usually called Seleucides, from Seleucus, one of Alexander’s lieutenants, who founded that kingdom about 300 years before Christ. 3. “Numismata aerea imperatorum. Augustorirm, & Caesarum, in coloniis, rnunicipiis, & urbibus jure Latio donatis, ex omni mo.dula percussa,Paris, 1688, 2 torn', folio. 4. “Numismata imperatdram & Csesarum, a populis Romanae ditionis GriEce loquentibus ex omni modulo percussa,Paris, 1698, 4to. A second edition, enlarged with 700 medals, was printed at Amsterdam, 1700, in folio. 5. “Historia JPtolemasorum yEgypti regum ad fidem numismatum accommodata,” Amst. 1701, folio. 6. “Nummi antiqui familiarum Romanarum perpetuis interpretationibus illustrati,” Aaist. 1703, 12 tom, foilo. 7. “Arsacidarum impetium, sive regum Parthorum histoiia ad fidem numismatum accommodata,Paris, 1725. 4to. 8. “Achaemenidarum imperium, sive” regum Ponti, Bosphori, Thracioe, & Bithynite historia, ad“fidem numismatum accommodata,Paris, 1725, 4to. Besides these works, he was the author of some pieces wftich are printed in. the “Memoirs of the academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres.1


Nicerou, vo!, III. —Chaufepie.Moreri.