An Outstanding Contemporary Copy of the First French Edition of the First Book on Kentucky

HISTOIRE DE KENTUCKE, NOUVELLE COLONIE A L'OUEST DE LA VIRGINIE.

(Paris: Chez Buisson, 1785). 203 x 128 mm. (8 x 5 1/8"). 2 p.l., xvi, 234 pp.Translated by M. Parraud. First French Edition.

Refined contemporary sheep, covers framed by plain and decorative gilt rolls, flat spine heavily gilt in compartments with alternating ribbon and star patterns, tail compartment with monogram of "J S G," red morocco label, marbled endpapers. With woodcut head- and tailpieces and a large engraved folding map of Kentucky. Howes 129; Field 537; Sabin 24338. Minor spots of foxing in a few places, tiny closed tear at crease of map (no text affected), but still incredibly clean and fresh, and, in all, AN OUTSTANDING COPY, THE BINDING REMARKABLY WELL PRESERVED.

This is a very attractively bound copy in unsurpassable condition of the French translation of the first book on Kentucky, including the first published biography of Daniel Boone. A schoolteacher, historian, surveyor, and one of the founders of Cincinnati, Filson (1753?-88) had acquired some 13,500 acres in the Kentucky territory through purchase and military land warrants. Despite the fact that Crawford's Defeat (a major rout of U. S. forces by American Indians in the region), was just two years before, Filson's first-hand account portrayed Kentucky as a peaceful and fertile land, ready for settlement (especially his land). The book sold well, and the accompanying map dedicated to George Washington (sold separately) flew off the shelves. Filson's work did much to encourage settlement to the Kentucky territory and he is credited with recognizing the region, especially the ports of Natchez and New Orleans, as essential to the future economic expansion of the country; in this, he anticipated the Louisiana Purchase by 18 years. No doubt the economic dimension was also what prompted his work to be translated into French less than a year later. The French still had extensive holdings throughout the North American West, still had a close relationship with the very young United States, and a significant number of "American" pioneers were French. The French edition expands on Filson's account, including Congressional records related to Kentucky and additional information on American Indians in the territory. It also includes the much-desired map bound-in. This book is not unheard of at auction, but to see a copy like ours, complete with half title and map, and in a contemporary binding that appears almost unused, is definitely uncommon.
(ST13035)

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PJP Catalog: RBMS16.028

HISTOIRE DE KENTUCKE, NOUVELLE COLONIE A L'OUEST DE LA VIRGINIE. KENTUCKY, JOHN FILSON.
HISTOIRE DE KENTUCKE, NOUVELLE COLONIE A L'OUEST DE LA VIRGINIE.