FRANÇOIS LE VAILLANT (1753-1824)
Voyage de Monsieur Le Vaillant dans l’intérieur de l’Afrique, par Le Cap de Bonne-Espérance. Dans les Années 1780, 81, 82, 83, 84 & 85. Paris: Chez Leroy, 1790. 2 volumes, 8° (190 x 115mm), 12 engraved plates, of which 2 are folding, engraved head-pieces. (Vol. I frontispiece cropped at lower margin.) Contemporary French speckled calf, covers with gilt roll of grape leaves, gilt turn-ins, spines gilt-diced, red calf lettering and numbering pieces, gilt edges, silk markers (one corner bumped).
FIRST OCTAVO EDITION. A fine set by the French naturalist and explorer who reached South Africa in 1781, and whose first exploration of the country took him from Cape Town as far westward as the Great Fish River. Of the 12 engraved plates, 7 are of Hottentot and Kafir people, and the offending plate of a Hottentot woman is here in its uncensored state, with striking images of giraffes on another 2 plates. The work was edited by its dedicatee Casimir Varon, and partly written by Varon or Le Vaillant père. Issued simultaneously in 2 volumes 4° by Le Roy. Although the title-page states that this first edition included Le Vaillant’s second expedition of 1783-1785, it was, in fact, separately published in 1795. He later augmented his travel journals with illustrated histories of exotic birds, particularly those of South Africa, from 1797 to 1804. Mendelssohn, I, pp.889-893, not listing this 1790 8° edition; Brunet, III, 1034.