[AMERICAN NEPTUNE]. Neptune Americo-Septentrional contenant les côtes, les et bancs, les baies, ports, et mouillages, et les sondes des mers de cette-partie du monde, depuis le Groenland inclusivement, jusques et compris le golfe du Mexique. [Paris: Depôt des Cartes et Plans de la Marine, 1778-1780].
Folio (25 3/8 x 19 4/8 inches). Engraved title-page (laid down), 26 engraved charts and plans of the Atlantic seaboard on 13 full sheets and 5 half sheets (pale waterstains to lower corners). Contemporary French mottled calf, the spine in eight compartments with 7 raised bands, red morocco lettering-piece in one, with the gilt supra libros of the "Service des Vasseaux [sic] de la Republique Francais on the front cover (a bit worn at the extremities).
Provenance: with the supra libros of the Service des Vasseaux [sic] de la Republique Francais (presumably 1792-1804) on the front cover; with the 19th-century book label of Eligh Descotes "Sacerdotis" at the foot of the title-page; also the label of M.A. de Lavis Trafford of Villa Lavis in France (1880-1960); and the early 20th-century bookplate of Francois Rabut on the front paste-down
First edition. Published for the use of the French navy during the American Revolution, by order of Antoine Sartine (1729-1801), then Minister of Marine (1774-1780), and a great moderniser of the French navy. Prior to the American Revolution he had increased shipbuilding by almost four-fold enabling an extraordinary production of 9 ships of-the-line a year by the time the French entered the fray in 1778. In that same year, partly inspired by the work of George-Louis Le Rouge, Buache de la Neuville proposed putting together the atlas of charts based on English maps that resulting from their ongoing survey of American waters and published in the previous fifteen years. The atlas would consist of two general maps of the whole coast and twelve larger-scale maps of ports and harbours. His proposed budget for the atlas was enormous and required the King's approval for extraordinary funds. In order to recoup the heavy cost of publication the maps were made available as collections and singly to the public as well as to the Navy. It is a nice irony that William Faden is recorded buying three copies of the Neptune Americo-Septentrional, even though his maps provided the basis for many of those included in the atlas; these were probably the first copies to arrive in England". (Pedley "The Commerce of Cartography: Making and Marketing Maps in Eighteenth-Century France and England")
The subjects of the charts include the coasts of Florida and Louisiana, Boston Harbor (after Des Barres), Charleston Harbor, Narragansett Bay (after Blaskowitz), the Delaware River (after Fisher), and the Hudson River. From the library of Dr. Marcus de Lavis-Trafford, local archæologist and physician at the Queen Victoria hospital, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, and doctor to the Duke of Connaught, also a pioneer of winter sports in the French Alps. Phillips, Atlases 1211; Howes N52. Catalogued by Kate Hunter