WALDECK, Jean Fréderic Maximilien, comte de (1766-1875). Voyage Pittoresque et Archéologique dans la province d'Yucatan (Amérique Centrale). Pendant les années 1834 et 1836. Paris: Firmin Didot frères for Bellizard Dufour et Co., and J. & W. Boone and Bossange Barthès & Lowell in London, 1838.
Large folio broadsheet (559 x 408mm). Half-title. 1p. errata. Title with engraved vignette on india paper mounted. Engraved map, hand-coloured in outline, 20 plates and plans, including 6 hand-coloured lithographic costume plates, 4 hand-coloured lithographic plates of antiquities, 5 uncoloured engraved plans and plates on india paper mounted, 2 double-page, 5 hand-coloured lithographic plans and measured drawings, one double-page. (Some light spotting or marginal browning). Contemporary dark green half morocco gilt, spine in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second, the others with elaborate overall decoration of massed small tools centered on a stylised flower-spray tool, gilt edges (light scuffing to extremities).
FIRST EDITION, DE LUXE ISSUE, OF THIS IMPORTANT AND RARE WORK GIVING A VIVID ACCOUNT OF WALDECK'S TRAVELS AND RESEARCHES IN THE YUCATAN and illustrated with fine hand-coloured lithographs of the inhabitants of the area, as well as excellent presentations of some of the antiquities he brought back with him. Only two copies are listed as having sold at auction in the last quarter century. The work was issued in two forms, with the plates coloured or uncoloured. The former, as here, is the de luxe issue and, according to Brunet, cost 100 francs as opposed to 75 for the uncoloured issue. Jean Frederick Waldeck was a born adventurer: during his teens he accompanied Levaillant to Southern Africa. He joined Napoleon's army of Italy in 1794 after the siege of Toulon. In 1798 he accompanied the expedition to Egypt, and then changed his mind and took part in an expedition to cross the Dongola desert (he was the only member to survive). In 1820 he set off for Mauritius, then on to Chile and Guatemala, later returning to central America. In Mexico, Waldeck worked as engineer for a silver mining project for a while, and then went on to visit the Toltec and Aztec ruins. In 1826, the government of France granted him pension money of 2000 francs, which allowed Waldeck to continue his studies and fieldwork. He examined the ruins of Palenque, remaining in the area for about two years. Unfortunately, just before embarking for Europe, he had the majority of his research documents and drawings confiscated. Brunet V, 1402; Palau 373688; Sabin 100994.