LA PÉROUSE, Jean François de Galaup, Comte de (1741-1788). Voyage de La Pirouse autour du monde, publié conformément au décret du 22 Avril 1791, et rédidé par... Millet-Mureau. Paris: Imprimeries de la République, An V (1796-1797).
4 text volumes, 4o (293 x 222 mm) and atlas 2o (560 x 438 mm). Half-titles. Engraved frontispiece portrait of La Perouse in the first text volume and 70 engraved plates in the atlas, including engraved title-page (some spotting, some soiling along central folds, occasional handling creases, few old paper reinforcements on versos). (Some very pale dampstaining to first few leaves in vol. I.) Text bound in contemporary quarter calf, marbled boards, spines gilt (lightly rubbed, few small splits along joints); atlas in contemporary black half morocco, smooth spine gilt (spine separated along front joint, rubbed).
FIRST EDITION. The two frigates Astrolabe and Boussole under La Pérouse's command left France in 1785 to explore the Pacific, particularly the regions unexamined by Captain Cook and the West Coast of North America. This was the first French expedition to visit Alaska and the first European non-Spanish expedition to stay at the Spanish settlements in California. La Pérouse also visited Easter Island, Hawaii, Macao, Formosa, Samoa, Tonga and Australia. In 1788 he sailed from Botany Bay and was lost at sea. Although a number of missions were dispatched in an effort to find La Pérouse, nothing was discovered until thirty nine years later when the wrecks of his ships were found on the reef of Vanikolo in the Santa Cruz islands of Melanesia. The voyage of La Pérouse is especially regarded for its superb mapping of the Alaskan and Californian coasts. Maps include San Diego, Monterey, and the whole of the Northwest coast. "It is one of the finest narratives of maritime exploration ever written, and certainly deserves to hold a place of high honor among the great travel accounts of the 18th century" (Howell); Ferguson 251; Hill I, p.173; Sabin 38960; Streeter sale VI:3493. (5)