MARCO POLO (1254-1324). La Description geographique des Provinces & villes plus fameuses de l'Inde Orientale. French translation by F.[rançios] G.[ruget?,] L.[ochois]. Paris: Jehan Longis, 1556.
4° (212 x 153 mm). Ruled in red lightly throughout, small woodcut publisher's device on title, large one on verso of final leaf. Numerous five- and six-line decorative woodcut initials. (Inscription removed from title with resultant slight browning, some minor marginal pale staining and soiling.) Late-17th or early-18th century vellum manuscript waste over boards, spine in six compartments with raised bands, brown morocco lettering piece (short split along lower front joint, some rubbing and wear).
VERY RARE FIRST EDITION IN FRENCH OF A WORK RECOUNTING THE STORY OF ONE OF THE GREATEST TRAVELLERS WHO EVER LIVED. “Marco Polo was a member of a prosperous Venetian family engaged in commerce. He set out with his father and uncle in 1271 on a journey to the East. Starting from Acre the party travelled through Persia and the upper Oxus to the Pamir plateau, and then through Mongolia and the Gobi desert to the extreme north-west of China, reaching Shantung in 1275. Here they sojourned at the Court of Kublai Khan until 1292, finally arriving back in Venice, after travelling through south-east Asia and southern India, in 1295. During his stay in China Marco Polo took an active part in the administration of the country and travelled widely in the Great Khan's service. He saw – or obtained knowledge of – large parts of China, northern Burma, Tibet, Japan, south-east Asia, the East Indies, Ceylon, southern India, Abyssinia, Zanzibar and Madagascar, Siberia and the Arctic” (PMM 39). The story of his travels was dictated by Polo in 1298-9 to Rusticello of Pisa, whilst both were prisoners of the Genoese. The first printed version appeared in German (Nuremberg: F.Creussner, 1477), this was followed by versions in Latin (1483-5), Italian (1496), Portuguese (1502) and Spanish (1529).
The present publication, THE FIRST EDITION IN FRENCH. Translated by François Gruget of Loches, according to research by M.E. Picot reported by Cordier. The edition was issued with three variant titles and final leaves, and was evidently shared by three booksellers: Vincent Sertenas (in whose name the privilege was granted), Estienne Groulleau (who may been the printer) and Jean Longis. Sertenas appears to have been the key of this affiliation, sharing separate premises with Groulleau (at the sign of St. John the Baptist, "en la rue neuue Nostre dame") and Longis ('au Palais en la gallerie par ou on va à la Chancellerie'). The assignment of the printing to Groulleau is based on the 1559 edition of Machiavelli's Les discours.. with a colophon which notes that it was "imprime par Groulleau, pour luy Iean Longis, & Vincent Sertenas."
Cordier Sinica III, 1977-78; see Adams P-1791; see BM/STC French p.360; see Henry Yule, The Book of Ser Marco Polo (New York, 1903) I, p. 553.