UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION -- [FRANKLIN, Benjamin, printer]. Constitutions des treize Etats-Unis de l'Amerique. Philadelphia and Paris: [Printed for Franklin by] Philippe-Denis Pierres and Pissot, 1783.
8° (251 x 191 mm). Printed on wove paper. Title-page with circular woodcut Great Seal of the United States, ITS FIRST USE IN A PRINTED BOOK. Contemporary French red morocco gilt, covers with triple-fillet border, floral tools at the corners, with the central gilt arms of Joseph Marie François de Lassonne, spine gilt. Provenance: Joseph Marie François de Lassone (1717-1788), first physician to King Louis XVI and to Queens Marie Leszczynska and Marie Antoinette (binding, presentation inscription).
FIRST EDITION IN FRENCH OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, one of 600 copies printed, this copy on wove paper (another issue was printed on laid paper). PUBLISHER’S PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED in a secretarial hand presenting the book from Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Marie François de Lassone: “Il avoit été donné par B. Franklin à M. de Lassone, médicin de Louis Seize. Le fils de celuy-cy m'en fit présent en 1794. V.S.” A superb association copy to the royal physician and co-founder, with Félix Vicq-d’Azyr, of the Royal Academy of Medicine.
Translated by the Duc de la Rochefoucault at Franklin's suggestion, probably incorporating many footnotes by Franklin and printed for Franklin. The collection comprises, besides each of the 13 state constitutions, the Declaration of Independence (pp.419-425, with all Signers named), the Articles of Confederation and treaties with France, the Netherlands and Sweden. Franklin's aims in publishing the edition were expressed in a letter to Thomas Mifflin of 25 December 1783: "The extravagant Misrepresentations of our Political State in foreign Countries, made it appear necessary to give them better Information, which I thought could not be more effectually and authentically done, than by publishing a Translation into French...." The obverse of the Great Seal, designed by Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson, makes its first appearance in a book on this title-page. Howes C-716; Livingston, Franklin and His Press at Passy, pp.181-188; Sabin 16118; Streeter sale III:1035.