The French, so reputed for love, had a strictly business-like approach to marriage. Men and women were merchandise with a price tag and matrimony was a financial transaction much like any other commercial deal. Wealthy widows purchased titles; young beauties without dowry offered themselves for sale to rich old men. The intention to marry a fortune was expressed candidly in newspaper ads like these:
May 27, 1877
Demand for a Demoiselle, even difficult to marry, but of great fortune, for a distinguished young man. Write to the newspaper.
November 12, 1876
Marriages André 42, rue du Bac, founded in 1859. Patented for its success, its discretion. One orphan, 23, 150.000 F: an officer. Demoiselle, 20, 150,000 F, father will hand down business. Widow, 40, 400,000 F: Monsieur with a title.
October 5, 1881
Mme GRUET, 11 bis, rue Mauberge: 3 orphans, 17 to 22, 1 million to 5 million F, 5 widows, 25 to 55, 200,000 to 7 million F.
March 14, 1888
Young Demoiselle, honorable family, very good physique, educated, distinguished, loves only old age. A well-to-do Monsieur, very aged, even one with infirmity.