23 September 2004
LOUIS HENNEPIN (1640-1701)
A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America, Extending above Four Thousand Miles, between New France and New Mexico; with a Description of the Great Lakes, Cataracts, Rivers, Plants, and Animals. London: for M. Bentley, J. Tonson and others, 1698. 2 parts in one volume, 8° (199 x 126mm). Engraved frontispiece, 2 engraved folding maps and 6 folding plates. (Repaired tears to maps, occasional light browning or offsetting, modern pencil annotations.) Contemporary blind-tooled calf gilt, spine tooled in compartments, lettering piece in the second (joints split, some wear with small losses). Provenance: John Clevland (c.1707-1763), (booklabel pasted inside upper cover) -- by descent to the present owners.
FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH of 'one of the most important volumes in the early history of North America', Hennepin's account details his penetration of the unexplored interior of North America. Priest, explorer and missionary, during his eleven years in the French territories he was 'the undoubted discoverer and explorer of the Upper Mississippi, and the first to lay open to the world that mighty region' (Sabin) and the first to describe the Niagara Falls, albeit with some hyperbole. Hennepin's tendency to exaggerate led some to discredit his narrative, but his maps remained among the best of the period and his work excited much interest in the possibilities of trade and expansion in the North American interior. Two issues of this edition appeared in 1698, this the so-called "Bon" issue (with the first line of the printers on the title-page ending in 'Bon-'). Howes H 416; Sabin 31371.
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