The Streeter Copy, with Particularly Attractive Colored Plates, of an Important Circumnavigation, Undertaken with the Explorer's Wife Smuggled on Board


(Paris: Chez Pillet l'ainé, 1824-26). 472 x 300 (18 1/2 x 11 3/4"); "Navigation et Hydrographie": 582 x 428 mm. (22 7/8 x 17"). Four atlas volumes (without the 12 text volumes). FIRST EDITION.

Period-style modern green half morocco over marbled boards, raised bands, spine panels with gilt centerpiece of mirrored shell tools with rope roll above and below, two black morocco labels, the "Navigation et Hydrographie" volume preserving original marbled boards with presentation lettering in gilt on front cover: "Offert à la Société Royale d'Edinburgh par le Dépôt Général de la Marine." WITH 350 ENGRAVED PLATES AND MAPS, 119 IN COLOR, distributed as follows: "Atlas Historique" with engraved title page with vignette, 112 engraved maps, plans, views/scenes, and portraits, 42 of the scenes and portraits HAND COLORED OR PRINTED IN COLOR AND FINISHED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND, two of the maps folding; "Atlas Zoologie" with engraved title, 96 engraved plates showing mammals, birds, sea creatures, shells, and insects, 77 of these hand-colored or printed in color and finished by hand; "Atlas Botanique" with engraved title, 120 engraved plates; "Atlas Navigation et Hydrographie" with l22 engraved maps and charts, 10 of these double-page. Sabin 25916; Brunet II, 1392 ("grand et bel ouvrage"); Ferguson 941; Sitwell, "Fine Bird Books," pp. 96-7; Nissen ZBI 1425; Wood 349; Christie's sale of the Frank S. Streeter Library: Navigation, Pacific Voyages, Cartography, etc., 16 April 2006, lot 207 (this copy). ◆Navigation volume with a hint of rubbing to edges of original marbled boards, but the very attractive bindings otherwise unworn. Intermittent mild foxing and faint browning (the "Botanique" volume, printed on chalkier paper, with occasional noticeable blotchy foxing) light offsetting, but a very appealing set showing virtually no signs of use, the plates and maps clean, fresh, and with very skillful coloring.

This is a very attractive set of the Atlases that accompanied the official account of Freycinet's voyage of scientific explorations, considered one of the most important French 19th-century circumnavigations of the globe. Wantrup notes that "complete sets are of the greatest rarity." The maps in the "Navigation" show the route of Freycinet's voyage, the lands visited, and charts of the seas traversed. On the ship "Uranie," Freycinet (1779-1841) and his crew, including marine hydrologist Louis Isidore Duperrey, artist Jacques Arago, and junior draughtsman Adrien Taunay fils, sailed to the islands of the Western Pacific, including the Hawaiian (Sandwich) Islands, Guam, Tonga, and Mauritius, then on to Australia, New Zealand, and South America. The "Uranie" ran aground in the Falkland Islands, and Freycinet completed his voyage back to France on the "Physicienne," which visited Rio de Janeiro on the way. An additional passenger on the voyage was Freycinet's wife, Rose, who was smuggled on board before the ship left Le Havre and who stayed by her husband's side through the whole journey. As women were considered by some superstitious seamen to be unlucky on ships, this caused some consternation among the crew. According to Hill, "Freycinet named an island he discovered after her--Rose Island among the Samoa Islands."
As the inscription on the front of "Navigation et Hydrographie" states, our set was presented to the Royal Society of Edinburgh by the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine, the central charting institution of France. The volumes have seen little use, the only internal imperfections being the foxing attributable to the paper used. The color plates are especially pleasing both in terms of their design and their finishing. Former owner Frank Sherman Streeter (1918-2006) was the son of Thomas Streeter, one of the greatest American collectors of the 20th century and the leading collector of Americana. A Navy veteran who served in the Pacific during World War II, Frank focused his own collection on travel and exploration, especially Pacific and Arctic voyages. His purchases at the auction of his father's library formed the foundation of the collection he built over 40 years. "Rare Book Monthly" reported on the sale of his library at Christie's in April 2007, which "yielded $16,421,820 and dozens of broken hearts," noting that "exceptional material and timing combine[d] with thorough description to produce a perfect storm of bidding."

Price: $85,000.00