Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale
Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale
Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale
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Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale

GEORGE COLLOT, 1804

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Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale
George Collot, 1804
COLLOT, George H. Victor (1751?-1805). Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale, ou description des pays arrosés par le Mississipi, l'Ohio, le Missouri.... Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1826 (actually printed in 1804).

A magnificent rarity: some of the most famous and beautiful views of the early Midwest ever made. "In 1796 Collot was sent by the French government to make a general reconnaissance of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, both to gauge the military situation on the frontier and to gather a view of the strength of secessionist sentiment among the American frontiersmen. His mission was undertaken during a period of great tension between the weak Spanish government in Louisiana and the rapidly expanding power of the United States in the West. Collot performed his mission admirably, creating a wealth of maps and views as well as soundings of the frontier population. All of his material was kept in duplicate, since his papers were seized several times by American and Spanish officials, who were justifiably suspicious of his work.

"Returning to France, Collot prepared his manuscript for publication, and had it printed in 1804; however, this was hardly a good time for a French work drawing attention to Louisiana, since Napoleon had just sold that territory to the United States. There is evidence that the book was officially suppressed at the point of publication—one copy is known to have survived with the original title. The author himself died in 1805, and the sheets of the book sat in a warehouse for the next two decades, until they were purchased in 1826 by Arthus Bertrand, the leading French publisher in his day of travels and voyages" (Best of the West). Moreover, Bertrand wrote that he deliberately destroyed a number of sets to limit this edition to only 400 copies.

The large-scale maps are very impressive and include a three-part map of the course of the Ohio River, a general view of the Ohio and Missouri River basins, course maps of the Mississippi, Mobile, and Yazoo Rivers, plans of forts and settlements, and a map of the Illinois Country, among others. "All of the maps and plans are beautifully engraved on heavy paper ... The views in the atlas are equally impressive, and are some of the earliest finished views made in the Mississippi Valley. They include views of Pittsburgh, the fort at Natchez, a view of Marietta, Long-reach on the Mississippi, an American log cabin, a view of the falls of the Ohio and Louisville, a Shawnee Indian, a Kaskaskia Indian, a French house in the Illinois country, and a Mandan Indian. All of these combine to make Collot's work one of the great rarities of Americana" (ibid). Best of the West 53; Howes C-601 ("d" including text vols); Sabin 14460; Streeter sale 1789; Wagner-Camp 31a:1a; Wheat Transmississippi West 236.

Atlas volume only (without two text volumes). Folio (355 x 270mm). Title and contents leaf in French; 36 engravings by Tardieu comprising ten folding maps, one double-page map, 14 plans, eight views, and three portraits of Natives (Illinois map with a marginal closed stub tear and associated creasing, some very minor edge-toning or pale offsetting to folding plates). Contemporary marbled boards, red morocco spine label (joints and corners worn).

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