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Instruction Élémentaire et Raisonée sur la Construction-Pratique des Vaisseaux,

en Forme de Dictionnaire ...

Published: Paris: J.B.G. Musier fils, 1771

Stock code: 98924

Price: £1,875

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First edition. Uncommon with just 25 copies world-wide noted by OCLC. Printed with the approbation of the chevalier de Borda as a shipbuilding manual for the use of the Gardes de la Marine, essentially the students of a distributed Royal Naval College. It was produced in dictionary form, without plates, with the intention of forcing the students to learn by observation in the shipyards; “it is on the shipyard, and with the book in hand, that a young man should follow the printed description: if the text was accompanied by figures, the reader would be tempted to stay in his room” (p.xxix). Ownership inscription verso of first blank, and elegant engraved book label to front pastedown, of Devis Decrès, future minister of the navy under Napoleon. Decrès had a brilliant career, a midshipman in 1779, he took part in operations in the Caribbean from 1780 to 1783, promoted to ship’s ensign in 1782 at the time that he took part in the Battle of the Saintes. His ownership inscription gives his rank as lieutenant, placing purchase of this volume between 1786 and 1793, when he became a captain. Arrested as a noble at the outbreak of the French Revolution, he was reinstated in 1795 and placed in command of the Formidable, and in her took part in the attempted invasion of Ireland in 1796. He was promoted to contre-amiral in 1798 and commanded a light squadron during the invasion of Egypt, covering the landing in Malta. He took part in the Battle of the Nile in the Diane, managing to avoid the slaughter, and escaping to Malta, raising his flag in the Guillaume Tell. He was captured trying to break the blockade, and eventually exchanged back to France in August 1800. Napoleon personally presented him an with an honour sabre, and appointed him maritime prefect at Lorient. From 3 October 1801 to the fall of the Empire in 1814, he served as Napoleon’s Minister of the Navy., being made a duke in April 1813. During the Hundred Days Decrès briefly resumed his post as Minister of the Navy. He died in a house fire in 1820.

Octavo (190 120 mm). Contemporary marbled sheep, red morocco label, flat spine, compartments formed by triple fillets gilt, attractive floral centre-tools, single fillet edge-roll, edges stained red, marbled endpapers, green silk page-marker still intact. 2 large folding letterpress tables, attractive wood-cut title-page vignette, half-title bound. Very lightly rubbed at the extremities, prefatory matter misbound, but collates complete, internally clean and very fresh, a very good copy indeed.

Bibliography: Craig p.16; Polak 3036

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