Art to make hats, by Jean Antoine Abbot of Nollet (1765)Jean Antoine (Abad de) Nollet
Jean Antoine Nollet was an eighteenth-century French physicist, ecclesiastic and illustrious member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Paris. The book in question – referred to by Cárdenas – is a practical manual prepared by the Abbot, commissioned by the Academy, that describes in detail the way in which hats are made, from different materials traded in Europe. Among them, it refers to the vicuña hair, coming from Peru. This last point is mentioned by Cárdenas in his foreword he explains how he has been able to make complete garments made only from vicuña wool. Nevertheless according to Cárdenas, Abbot Nollet considers impossible vicuña hats.
Although it is true that Abad Nollet does not say textually that this process cannot be carried out, it is suggested that vicuña wool is very thin, so it is necessary to work with other materials to make manufactures. Thus, Santiago de Cárdenas points out two things: his incredulity to the written word of the Abbot, in a challenging tone denying the so established truth, from his own experience. Cárdenas believes in his intelligence, which he considers to be his most valuable virtue and the subsequent reason for which his proposal deserves to be heard.
This reference has the peculiarity of being the first edition of the French text is 1765 and of the Spanish text is 1771- which are later than the date to which the Cárdenas manuscript is usually associated: 1762. As it is mentioned in the Foreword, the text that precedes the memorials, this allows us to conclude that Cárdenas introduced that section at least 3 years, after having produced the second memorial. We think that it might even be more possible that it was a decade later, since it is not probable that Cárdenas had access to the original in French.