Description de l'Egypte ou Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Egypte pendant l'expédition de l'Egypte. Paris: Panckoucke, 1820-1830. 37 volumes, comprising 24 text volumes bound in 26 (vol. 18 in three parts), 8° (207 x 127mm.), and 10 volumes of plates, large 2° (675 x 515mm). Text: 52 engraved or lithographic plates, including 15 folding and 36 printed recto and verso of 18 leaves and 34 folding letterpress tables; plates volumes with two engraved frontispieces, one hand-coloured, and 905 plates on 897 leaves (some folding or double-page), extra-illustrated with letterpress and manuscript subscribers slip tipped in at front of vol.I of 'Antiquités' section. (Occasional spotting.) Text volumes bound in contemporary half russia, spines gilt in five compartments with raised bands, lettered in three, the first and fifth compartments decorated in gilt with various combinations of 'egyptian' symbols, gilt edges (spines rubbed, two covers detached, section of one spine detached, joints rubbed); plates: contemporary diced half russia, spines gilt in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in four, the first and sixth compartments decorated in gilt with various combinations of 'egyptian' symbols blocked in gilt, gilt edges (spines and joints rubbed). Provenance: Frederick Perkins (Chipstead Place, Kent, bookplate, subscriber's form tipped in at front of vol.I of plates).
A HANDSOME SUBSCRIBER'S SET OF THE SECOND EDITION OF THE FIRST COMPREHENSIVE DESCRIPTION OF ANCIENT AND MODERN EGYPT, and the outstanding achievement of Napoleon's expedition to Egypt (1798-1801). The work is the greatest of a number of first class scientific publications by the French government detailing the results of exploration, unequalled by any other nation during the same period. The only flaw in Napoleon's preparation for the invasion of Egypt was his miscalculation of the Turkish reaction to France's unsolicited 'help' in sorting out its most unruly vassals, the Mamluks of Egypt. Napoleon had intended to follow his military conquest of the country with the introduction of radical economic and social measures which might have created a modern European-style state, controlled by France, at the axis of all trade between Europe, India and the East. To this end nearly 500 French civilians were dispatched to Egypt, led by men drawn from the Institut de France, and known popularly as the savants. On arrival their first task was to make a thorough survey of every aspect of the country, including its vast wealth of antiquities. The work was co-ordinated by the Institut de l'Egypte, founded in the house of Hassan Kachef (illustrated in the plates to the Etat moderne), with Gaspar Monge as president. As early as October 1798 Fournier was entrusted with the task of uniting the reports on various disciplines with a view to publication. Following the capitulation of the army to Egypt under General Menou (a convert to Islam), the savants returned to France where a commission was set up for the editing and supervision of the work; its publication stretched over 20 years and was finally completed in 1830.
The set comprises:
Antiquités: Text: 10 vols. Plates: 5 volumes with engraved dedication plate to Louis XVIII, engraved coloured frontispiece, and 424 plates, a number double or folding. This section describes not only the ruins, with which Europeans were already familiar, but also the objects excavated there, including the Rosetta Stone. The portable objects collected were to have been removed to France but at embarkation William Hamilton (agent to Lord Elgin) and E.D. Clarke confiscated them; the majority survive today at the British Museum. The quality of the plates was much enhanced by the use of an engraving machine invented by Conté, which is itself illustrated in the succeeding part.
Etat Moderne: Text: 10 vols. (published as volumes 11-18, with volume 18 in three parts). Plates: 2 vols. with 186 plates on 178 leaves. This section describes the architecture of Egypt, particularly Cairo, subsequent to the Arab invasion in the 7th century. Other sub-headings include Arts et Métiers; Costumes et Portraits; Vases, Meubles et Instruments and Inscriptions Monnoies et Médailles.
Histoire Naturelle: Text: 6 vols. Plates: 2 vols. with 243 engraved plates. The principal sub-headings of this part comprise geology and physical geography by de Rozière, mammals by Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, Jules-César Savigny and Audouin, flora by Rafeneau-Didile. The many artists who contributed drawings to this part include Barraband, Prêtre, Pierre Joseph Redouté, and Turpin.
Atlas géographique: 52 engraved maps, 42 double-page. The origin of this survey was the inadequacy of d'Anville's map dating from 1765. The new survey conducted under Jacotin included not only Egypt but Sinai, Palestine and much of modern Lebanon, as an offshoot of the Syrian campaign. The maps were ready for publication by 1818, but, presumably for security reasons, they remained with the Dépot de Guerre until about 1830.
W.B. Cook, Jr. Catalogue of the Egyptological Library ... of the the Late Charles Edwin Wilbour, Brooklyn, NY: 1924, pp.178-184; Brunet II, 617; Gray 1999; Graesse II, 365; Monglond VIII, 268-343; Nissen BBI 2234; Nissen ZBI 4608. (36)