16 - 17 April 2007
[LA PÉROUSE, Jean François de Galaup, Comte de (1741-1788)]. ASSEMBLÉE NATIONALE. Loi relative à la découverte des deux Frégates Françoises la Boussole & l'Astrolabe, commandées par M. de la Pérouse. Paris: L'Imprimerie Royale, 1791.
Bifolium (249 x 196 mm). Engraved headpiece. Unbound, folded as issued.
VERY RARE: THE FIRST FORMAL DOCUMENT ACKNOWLEDGING FEARS OF LA PÉROUSE'S DISAPPEARANCE
This French National Assembly decree initiated the search for La Pérouse in response to a petition from the Société d'Histoire Naturelle. There were simultaneous issues printed in Paris, Valenciennes, Pau and Auxerre, and none appear in American Book Prices Current in the last 30 years.
La Pérouse's two ships had last made official contact from the east coast of Australia and fears were building that they were lost. "The decree requested the king to authorize compensation for nationals of other countries willing to help in the search. It also requested him to commission one or more vessels, on which were to be embarked scientists, naturalists and artists to search for La Pérouse and to make scientific and commercial inquiries. Even if La Pérouse was found or news of him discovered, the leader of the expedition was to continue to make investigations useful to navigation, geography, commerce, the arts and sciences... [In the political circumstances] widespread enthusiasm for the voyage was not surprising. Patriotism too was a uniting force; La Pérouse's expedition was a source of national pride, a demonstration to the world that England had no monopoly in glorious feats of maritime exploration" (Frank Horner, Looking for La Pérouse: D'Entrecasteaux in Australia and the South Pacific, 1792-1793, Melbourne, 1995, pp.4-6). Out of this decree was born the voyage of D'Entrecasteaux in search of the missing ships (see lot 181). The document was reprinted at the opening of the official account of the La Pérouse voyage, both inviting further search efforts and standing as a memorial (see next lot, pp.1-2). Ferguson 106a (Auxerre ed.); Kroepelien 710; McLaren 132 (Valenciennes ed.)
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