COLLOT, GEORGES H. VICTOR. 1751?-1805.
Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale, ou Description des pays arrosés par le Mississippi, l'Ohio, le Missouri et autres rivières affluentes.... Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1826 [but printed in 1804/5].
2 text volumes + atlas. Text: , iv, viii, 8, vi, -416; , 427 pp. Half-titles. 8vo (197 x 126 mm). Period half calf, spines gilt; quarter morocco slipcase. Corners worn and joints rubbed. Atlas: 4 letterpress leaves (title and plate list in French and in English) plus 32 engraved plates by Tardieu, many folding. 4to (347 x 260 mm). Old half vellum, morocco lettering pieces, endpapers renewed. With 36 engravings by Tardieu, comprising 10 folding maps, 1 double-page map, 14 plans, 8 views, and 3 figures of Indians. Folding maps with some very mild offsetting, North America map with slight fold tear, paper flaw to Part II of Ohio River map with small loss to blank area, guards renewed, very mild occasional foxing or marginal spotting, text leaves toned, mild soiling to binding, extremities rubbed.
FIRST EDITION, IN FRENCH: AN EXCEPTIONALLY BEAUTIFUL AND RARE WORK, with a romantic history both in its authorship and its publication. Victor Collot served under Rochambeau in the American Revolutionary War. In the late 1790s he was commissioned by the French government to explore the western interior then under Spanish control. The notes and drawings from his expedition down the Ohio and the Mississippi are phenomenally detailed and remain some of the most evocative depictions of the Midwestern wilderness ever produced. Collot's precision is all the more remarkable considering his belongings must have been under frequent threat of confiscation by the Spaniards. Collot was finally arrested by Governor Carondelet when he arrived in New Orleans.
Collot's work was printed in French and English in 1804-5 with fine engravings by Tardieu, one of the foremost engravers of the period. However, Collot died in 1805 and, due to the Louisiana Purchase, this work was not released at that time. More than two decades later, "the whole impression came into the hands of M. Bertrand, an eminent publisher in Paris, who reserved 100 copies of the English and 300 of the French edition, and made waste paper of the remainder" (Rich, Bibliotheca Americana Nova, 2:185). Of particular note are Collot's views and plans of Fort Erie, Fort Niagara, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Natchez, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and the "beautifully executed map of the Ohio River [depicting] vividly the wilderness that this country was at the time of his journey" (Wagner-Camp 31a:1). Complete plate list with condition details available upon request. Buck 48; Howes C601 ("d"); Monaghan 458; Sabin 14460; Streeter sale 1789; Wheat Transmississippi West 236.
Provenance: atlas owned by John B. Stetson, sold by him at Parke-Bernet, 14 April 1953, lot 207; sold by Henry Stevens in 1953 to Frank T. Siebert; text volumes purchased by Siebert from Maggs Bros.
Acquisition: Siebert sale, Sotheby's New York, Oct 28, 1999, lot 819, $107,000.