Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2010 Issue

Voyages, Americana, Atlases, Science and More from Les Trois Islets

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A variety of works from Les Trois Islets.


By Michael Stillman

We recently received the fifth catalogue from French bookseller Les Trois Islets. The rare book seller is located in the town of Saint-Briac sur mer in Bretagne on France's northern coast. This catalogue is primarily in the French language, but we will translate the title to A Selection of 150 Books: Voyages - Americana - Atlas - Marine (Exploration, science and technology, military art). While there is a preponderance of French works in this catalogue, there are numerous others also to be found. From an American standpoint, you will find both items of French Americana and first French editions of books of American interest. This catalogue offers a wide variety of works including many of great importance. Here are a few of the 150 inside its covers.

Item 13 is a very early look at the New World, particularly New France in North America. Marc Escarbot was a scholar and writer who was invited to visit the new French colony of Acadia in 1606. On this and a subsequent voyage, Escarbot learned much about the French colonies and the native tribes. On his return home, Escarbot wrote the book Histoire de la Nouvelle France... which was published in 1609. He covers discoveries made by other explorers, including in Florida and Brazil, but then focuses on the area now known as Canada. While part he learned from others, including Champlain's early visits, he also presents much from his own first-hand knowledge or from others with whom he spoke directly. Escarbot's work is generally regarded as a "reliable" account of life in New France at the turn of the 17th century. This first edition, published in Paris, is extremely rare (it was described as "very rare" in 1917 in the Huntington catalogue). Price on request.

Item 1 is a book in French by a French diplomat, but it is likely to be of greatest interest to collectors of Americana. It is Histoire de la Louisiane et de la Cession de Cette Colonie par la France aux Etats-Unis... published in 1829. Author Francois Barbe-Marbois was appointed by Napoleon to conduct the preliminary negotiations which led to the sale of the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1803. President Jefferson had only been looking to purchase a small amount of land at New Orleans to guarantee American access to the Mississippi, only to be surprised by Napoleon's willingness to sell the entire territory. The purchase instantly doubled the size of the United States. Barbe-Marbois recounts the history of the territory and describes the negotiations that led to this momentous event in American history. €1,200 (euros, or roughly $1,623 in U.S. dollars).

Item 71 is the account of a voyage that was as popular to the French as Cook's voyages were to the English. Jean-Francois de La Perouse led a mission to the Pacific in 1785 that lasted until 1788. His explorations were extensive, visiting numerous Pacific islands, including Hawaii, the west coasts of North and South America, including the coast from California to Alaska, Japan, Russia, China, and finally Australia. At several of his stops, La Perouse sent back his notes, which eventually became the basis of this account. However, La Perouse and his crew did not return. They disappeared after leaving Australia's Botany Bay and were never heard from again. Their disappearance was a mystery for 40 years until wreckage of their ships was finally discovered on the isolated island of Vanokoro. It is fortunate that La Perouse sent his notes back with others, enabling the publication in 1797 of this five-volume first edition of Voyage de La Perouse autour du monde... €22,000 (US $29,782).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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