Lot 77 of 576:
Early Scientific Voyage to California 1772  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyer's Premium):$510
$300 - $500

A voyage to California, to observe the transit of Venus. By Mons. Chappe d'Auteroche. With an historical description of the author's route through Mexico, and the natural history of that province. Also, a voyage to Newfoundland and Sallee, to make experiments on Mr. Le Roy's time keepers. By Monsieur de Cassini

Chappe d'Auteroche, Jean


Edward and Charles Dilly



[8], 215 pp. Folding copper-engraved plan of Mexico City. (8vo) 17.8x11 cm (7x4¼"), blue library buckram, spine lettered in gilt. First Edition in English.

First edition of one of the earliest scientific expeditions to California, sent out by the French government much to the consternation and suspicion of the Spanish, spurring the dispatch of Gaspar de Portolá in 1769 and hastening settlement of Upper California. Streeter describes the work as “A thrilling account of a race against time to reach Lower California before the transit of Venus occurred. After nerve-racking delays, which began in Spain, and narrow escapes from disaster, the goal was reached late in May. Two days after the transit was observed a malignant fever spread through the little group and Chappe d’Auteroche [1728-1769], who nursed the sick and dying, took it himself and died on the first of August. Mr. Cowan is quite incorrect in his note on this book, saying ‘this celestial phenomenon was visible only upon the coast of California.’ It was in fact visible throughout the western hemisphere and expeditions to observe it were sent to numerous stations. Also Spain not only knew of the expedition, but in the end co-operated in every way to make it a success.” According to most sources, the engraved map of Mexico City probably was based on one by José Antonio Alzate y Ramírez. Howes C299; Streeter Sale 2443 (for 1st edition). This copy formerly in the Chicago Public Library, with bookplate, perforated stamp and old rubberstamp to title, accession rubberstamp on verso dated 1892; the rebinding is much more recent, and the text was trimmed significantly when rebound, though there are still fairly good margins; the map was trimmed as well, to or just over the neat lines at top and left margin, and affecting a centimeter or so of the map itself at bottom, including the word "Mexico" in the title, with repair/reinforcement on verso at left edge.

Lot Amendments

Despite being ex-library, and the trimming, about very good, sold as is.

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