[ROCHAMBEAU, JEAN BAPTISTE DONATIEN DE VIMEUR, COMTE DE. 1725-1807.]
Calendrier Français, Pour l'Année Commune 1781. Contenant le Calcul ordinaire du level & du coucher du Soleil, de la Lune & leur Déclinaison. Un État des Officiers de l'Escadre, & des principaux de l'Armée aux ordres de M. le Comte de Rochambeau. Les Époques les plus intéressantes de la Guerre présente, avec les Routes du Continent. Newport: Imprimerie Royale de l'Escadre, .
, 43 pp. Printed on blue-gray paper. 8vo (197 x 119 mm). Untrimmed. Stab-sewn in plain wrappers. Custom full blue morocco box. Lower outer corner inconspicuously strengthened throughout, touching a few letters on first 2 leaves but otherwise marginal, still a very attractive, generally crisp item.
FIRST EDITION OF THIS EXCESSIVELY RARE RHODE ISLAND IMPRINT DATING FROM ROCHAMBEAU'S ARRIVAL IN NEWPORT. One of the very few publications of the press of Rochambeau's fleet printed after their arrival in Newport in July of 1780. For nearly a year Rochambeau and his troops were held inactive by the British blockade in Narragansett Bay and the tedious waiting for French naval reinforcements. They occupied their time with military exercises, exploration on the continent, social calls to the locals, and printing a handful of pamphlets. When Rochambeau finally left Rhode Island it was to join George Washington on the Hudson River at Dobbs Ferry for the famous combined march of French and American forces which ended at the Siege of Yorktown.
In addition to the almanac proper, which is likely the first Roman Catholic almanac printed in America (Evans), we are provided with a directory of all the officers serving under Rochambeau, some quick facts about the history of Rhode Island, a riddle, a time-line of the important events in the American Revolution to date, and a 4-page table of distances on the major roads on the continent. The latest event noted in the time-line is the execution of Major Andre on October 2, 1780.
The last copy we are able to trace at auction sold nearly a century ago, in 1913 to the Rhode Island Historical Society for $525. (That copy lacks the final four leaves.) There is no doubt that this work is a tremendous rarity. The best-known product of the "Imprimerie Royale de l'Escadre" is the first edition of Chastellux's Voyage de Newport à Philadephie which is known to have had a print run of less than 30 copies.
See Chapin, "Calendrier français pour l'année 1781" in Contributions to Rhode Island Bibliography no 2, 1914. Alden Rhode Island 811; Drake Almanacs 12860; Evans 17110.
Acquisition: purchased from Librairie Thomas-Scheler, Jun 21, 1995, $26,635.
FROM THE PRINTING PRESS OF THE FRENCH FLEET IN AMERICA DURING THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR.