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LA PÉROUSE, Jean François Galaup de.

Voyage Autour du Monde...

publié conformément au Décret du 22 Avril 1791, et rédigé par M. L. A. Milet-Mureau.

Availability: In stock

Published: Paris de l'Imprimerie de la République, 1797

Stock Code: 75897

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition of "one of the great documents of French exploration in the Pacific Ocean. In addition to a detailed account of the expedition itself, these volumes contain invaluable scientific information, observations on the natives that were encountered, and a wealth of geographic and cartographic data. The beautiful Atlas, with its finely engraved maps, charts, and plates, includes a detailed chart of San Francisco Bay, the first representation of the crested quail, and several maps and plates of the harbours at Monterey and San Diego, as well as two charts and one view of the Sandwich Islands. It is a magnificent production, and some authorities consider the engraving and craftsmanship to be superior even to that in the Cook-Webber Atlas that accompanies the journals of the great English explorer's third voyage it is one of the finest narratives of maritime exploration ever written, and certainly deserves to hold a place of high honour among the great travel accounts of the 18th century" (Howell Anniversary Catalogue 72, Richard Reed's essay). The atlas volume contains magnificent maps of Russian Asia, Japan, the Pacific northwest coast, San Francisco, Monterey, and also Necker Island. The most significant results of La Pérouse's voyage are the charts of the then imperfectly known Asiatic side of the Pacific and the details of "the peculiarities he observed in the natives of the northwest coast of North America, which are especially valuable" (Sabin). En route to Kamchatka, La Pérouse was the first to navigate safely and chart the Japan Sea and the strait between the island of Sakhalin and the northernmost island of Japan, which bears his name. At Kamchatka he received instructions to proceed to Australia to assess the extent of British plans in New South Wales. Travelling via Samoa, where he discovered the islands of Savaii, Manono and Apolima in December 1787, and through the Tongan group, he arrived at Botany Bay in January 1788, just hours after Captain Phillip had arrived with the First Fleet. La Pérouse's habit of forwarding despatches whenever the opportunity offered ensured their survival; the final despatches were sent from Botany Bay, after which the expedition was never seen again. Evidence slowly came to light that both ships were wrecked on the reefs around the islands northwest of Australia. One crew was massacred by the local inhabitants. The Astrolabe was unloaded, taken apart and a two-masted craft built from its wreckage, which left westward some 9 months later, its fate unknown. Two men, one a "chief" and the other his servant, stayed behind, surviving until 1823. An extremely attractively-presented set of this important account.

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4 quarto text volumes (390 x 214 mm) and folio atlas (440 x 282 mm), all in contemporary half calf, pinkish tan spine labels, single gilt ruled compartments, marbled sides and endpapers, text volumes relined to match the atlas. Maps and double-page plates folded down to make the atlas smaller and more practical.


Engraved frontispiece portrait of La Pérouse from a miniature by Alexandre Tardieu in both first text volume and atlas, atlas with emblematic title-page engraved by Philippe Frière after Moreau le Jeune, symbolising France revealing the Pacific to art, sc


Very slightly rubbed at the extremities and with minor, skilful restoration at extremities, lower corners of the atlas with some stripping, text volumes clean and sound, just the occasional spot of foxing, one or two plates in the atlas trimmed a little close to the captions, but no loss, but very clean and fresh. A handsome set.


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