[CHARPENTIER DE COSSIGNY, Joseph François (b.1736)]. Lettre a Monsieur Sonnerat. 1784. L'Ile de France: L'Imprimerie Royale, 1784. 4° (225 x 165mm). Title with woodcut armorial device, woodcut head- and tail-piece, 3 tables. (Light dampstaining to title and several leaves, small stain at fold of final leaves.) 18th-century blue paper wrappers (joints rubbed). Provenance: J Decaisne (inscription to title in an early 19th-century hand).
AN EXTREMELY RARE AND IMPORTANT EARLY MAURITIUS IMPRINT, from 'one of the earliest printing centres of the Southern Hemisphere' (Toussaint). This first edition of Charpentier's work was issued by the Imprimerie Royale in Port Louis, whose first publications listed in Toussaint date from 1768. In this document, 'copies of which are very scarce' (Toussaint), Charpentier de Cossigny, the Ingénieur du Roi, addresses Pierre Sonnerat, the Commissaire de la Marine, to correct mis-statements ('relever vos erreurs!') in a work by the latter, Voyage aux Indes Orientales et à la Chine (1782), describing the manners, religion, science and arts 'des Indiens, des Chinois...et des Madégasses'. Toussaint attributes the historical importance of Charpentier's work to its inclusion of 'all the facts and figures concerning the part played by Isle de France in the naval operations against the British in India during the War of American Independence'. He calls it a 'remarkable piece of work' as it shows 'that during the government for the King Isle de France had become really the star and key of the Indian Ocean' (Toussaint, Early Printing in the Mascerene Islands. Paris, 1950, p.97). It is possible that the early owner of this copy was Joseph Decaisne (b.1807), the botanist and Professor of Culture at the Académie des Sciences in Paris. Toussaint A 103.
Together with: A collection of broadsheets on Mauritius, examples from the history of early colonial printing, all bearing the imprint 'Port-Nord-Ouest, chez F. N. Bolle':
Avis, 2°, [n.d.], signed by Governor-General Magallon; relative to anonymous letters (wear to edges). Not in Toussaint.
Adresse de l'Assemble-Coloniale aux Colons de l'Isle de France, 2°, '16 Messidor, an 8e' [5 July 1800], signed by Deneumoutié. Not in Toussaint.
Proclamation, 2°, dated 'le 15 brumaire de l'an sept' [5 November 1798], signed by Malartic; relative to the National Guard (some light dampstains). Toussaint A 274.
Aux Habitans de l'Isle de France, 2°, dated '19 Thermidor an huit' [8 August 1800], signed by Magallon, with manuscript additions (short neat tear). Not in Toussaint.
Aux citoyens Juges du Tribunal d'Appel, small bifolium, dated 12 October 1797, signed Ventrua Martinez, J. Arceo, inscribed with a signature in manuscript. Not in Toussaint.
Directoire de L'Isle de France. Extrait des registres des delibérations & arrêtés du Directoire de la colonie, 16pp., dated '24-28 Fructidor, an 8e' [11-15 September 1800], signed Magalion, and Laurens; relative to registers of births, marriages and deaths etc. Not in Toussaint.
A COLLECTION OF VERY RARE EARLY BROADSHEETS. François Nicolas Bolle, a native of Strasburg, was 'directeur' of the Imprimerie Royale, taking over the post of government printer from Lambert in 1783. The 'Assemblée Coloniale', which had assumed control of the government of the Isle de France at the outbreak of the Revolution, sold the press to Bolle in 1791, on the condition that he published a weekly offical gazette of quarto or octavo pages, containing the arrêtés of the Colonial Assembly. Although Pierre Nicolas Lambert purchased the press from Bolle in 1795, publications still bore the Bolle imprint until his death in 1801. (7)