JEAN FRANÇOIS DE GALAUP, COMTE DE LA PÉROUSE (1741-1788)
Voyage de La Pérouse autour du Monde, publié... et rédigé par M.L.A.Milet-Mureau. Paris: l'Imprimerie de la République, 1797. 5 volumes (text: 4 volumes, 4° [290 x 215mm.]; atlas: 1 vol., 2° [435 x 280mm.]) Text: half-titles. Engraved portrait. Atlas : engraved throughout, portrait, title, 35 plates (1 folding), 3 folding engraved coastal profiles, and 31 folding maps. Text: Modern half-calf expertly bound to match atlas volume; Atlas: contemporary half-calf, red morocco lettering-piece to spine.
FIRST EDITION of the official description of a voyage that ended in one of the worst disasters in the early history of Pacific exploration. 'Lapérouse sailed from France in 1785, with the frigates Astolabe and Boussole, to the Pacific and the west coast of North America. He was to examine such parts of the region as had not been explored by Captain Cook; to seek an interoceanic passage; to make scientific observations on the various countries, peoples, and products [three professional artists were employed: Duché de Vancy, Prevost and his nephew]; to obtain reliable information about the fur trade and the extent of the Spanish settlements in California; and to promote in general the inducements for French enterprise in that quarter... The result was that Lapérouse made a valuable contribution to the history of geographical discovery, particularly with regard to the American coast and the natives of America... The expedition visited... Easter Island, Hawaii, Macao, Formosa, the Aleutian Islands, Samoa, Tonga, and Australia. Lapérouse sent his dispatches to France from Kamchatka and Botany Bay. After leaving Botany Bay, the expedition was never heard from again. Thirty-nine years later the broken remnants of his two ships were found on the reef of Vanikoro, one of the Santa Cruz Islands, by Peter Dillon' (Hill). Ferguson 251; Hill p.173; Sabin 38960. (5)