Lot 152: First edition of one of the most authoritative accounts of French Canada by Charlevoix
November 5, 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France, avec le journal historique d'un voyage fait par ordre du Roi dans l'Amerique Septentrionnale. Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix (1682-1761). Paris: Chez Pierre-Francois Giffart, 1744. 3 volumes, 4to., (10 x 7 5/8 inches). Half-titles. Title-pages printed in red and black with engraved vignettes, 28 engraved maps and plans (including 25 full-sheet or folding), 44 engraved botanical plates depicting 96 plants on 22 folding sheets, 4 historiated engraved headpieces, numerous decorative woodcut and typographic initials and head- and tailpieces, (a few maps with creased fore-edges, "Plan de la Baye de Chedaboucton" with small closed tear affecting the image, occasional scattered light foxing or staining). Contemporary French mottled calf, spines gilt in six compartments with red morocco letteringpieces, marbled endpapers, red edges, green silk bookmarks (extremities scuffed, corners worn with minor loss, one or two hinges starting). Provenance: Near contemporary ownership inscription of F. Ollivier on the recto of each first blank. "one of the most valuable, if not the most valuable, early accounts of Louisiana" (Clark). First edition of one of the most authoritative accounts of French Canada. Variant publisher's imprint of Pierre-Francois Giffart, about which Sabin says: "They are all the same edition, and, it may be presumed, that the work was a joint stock speculation, each subscriber having his own name on the title of his own copies". In 1719 the French Crown entrusted Charlevoix with the task of recommending boundaries for Acadia, which France had partially ceded to England at the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Charlevoix's report maintained that France had ceded only the peninsular of Nova Scotia and that France should continue to support and trade with the Abenakis. In 1720 Philippe, duke of Orl?ans and regent of France, asked Charlevoix to investigate the rumors relating to the existence of a western sea between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean. In volume 3 of this book Charlevoix describes his journey from Rochefort in 1720 to Le Havre in December 1722: After over wintering 1720-1721 in Quebec, Charlevoix journeyed West in early 1721. On his way to Michilimackinac (Michigan) he visited Fort Chambly, SaultSaint-Louis, Quebec, Fort Frontenac (Kingston, Ontario), the Niagara region, and Lake St. Clair. From Lake Michigan, he journeyed to the mouth of the Missouri River, passing through Baie des Noquets, Fort Saint-Joseph, along the Theakiki, and Illinois rivers. Charlevoix continued Cahokia (East St. Louis) and Kaskaskia, reaching New Orleans in January 1722. A number of adventures befell him on his return journey to France, including the shipwreck off the Florida Keys of his boat the 'Adour'. "Charlevoix was a careful, thorough, and honest historian. He consulted archival documents, listed his bibliographical sources, used footnotes, interviewed eyewitnesses, and relied, whenever possible, on personal observations. Given his firsthand knowledge of the country, his major achievement is "Histoire et description g?n?rale de la Nouvelle-France", used by subsequent historians to this date as a primary source for the history of New France and for the ethnography of the North American Indians" (DANB). Streeter sale 1:123; Field 282; Graff 650; Greenly II; Clements One Hundred Michigan Rarities 8; Clark 1:59; European Americana 744/53; Lande 125; Staton & Tremaine 4697; Howes C307; Sabin 12135; Wheat, Transmississippi West 120 (these references citing a variety of imprints).
Artist or Maker: Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix
Literature: Rare Book