CHARLEVOIX, Pierre Francois Xavier de (1682-1761). Histoire et Description Generale du Japon; ou l'on trouvera tout ce qu'on a pu apprendre da la nature & des Productions du Pays, du Caractere & des Coutumes des Habitans, du Governement & du Commerce, des Revolutions arrivees dans l'Empire & dans la Religion; et l'examen de tous les auteurs, qui ont ecrit sur le meme sujet. Avec les Fastes Chronologiques de la Decouverte du Nouveau Monde. Paris: chez Julien-Michel Gandouin, Quai de Conti aux Trois Vertus, 1736.
2 volumes. 4to., (10 2/8 x 7 6/8 inches). Half-titles and title-pages printed in red and black. Fine folding engraved map "Carte de l'Empire de Japon,... 1735" by Bellin, and 3 further folding maps, 22 double-page engraved plates of views, plans and specimens, including one folding, and 12 full-page plates of views and specimens, the city views and map of Korea engraved by d'Heuland, vignettes and plates by Mothey (some text leaves a bit browned). Fine contemporary French mottled calf, the spines in six compartments with five raised bands, gilt lettering-pieces in two, the others decorated with fine gilt tools
Provenance: with the 18th-century engraved armorial bookplate of Mr. Bronod, avocat au conseil on each paste-down; Ex-Libris Jean R. Perrette, his sale, Christie's New York, 5th April 2016, lot 219
First edition of Charlevoix's account of Japan, mainly derived from the works of Engelbrecht Kaempfer (1651-1716), issue with only Gandouin listed as publisher, and the maps of Kamtschatka and Jedo bound in first volume, rather than second volume, as called for.
Best known for his "Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France, avec le journal historique d'un voyage fait par ordre du Roi dans l'Amerique Septentrionnale", in part based on firsthand knowledge, Charlevoix published his first book, and his first book on Japan, in 1715: Histoire de l'établissement, des progrès et de la décadence du christianisme dans l'empire du Japon. In three volumes, it was a huge success and it was reprinted many times in 1828, 1836, 1842, and 1853. His second book on Japan, as here, was published in 1736, long after his return from adventures in northeastern North America in 1722, and was reprinted in 1754, 1839, 1841, 1844, 1852.
Kaempfer, originally from Lemgo in Germany, was appointed a member of a Dutch trade mission bound for Japan in 1690. His resulting "History of Japan..." is an encyclopaedic and profusely illustrated description of the Japanese flora and fauna, government and industries, and it remained the chief source of Western knowledge of Japan for over a century. Sir Hans Sloane acquired Kaempfer's botanical specimens after the author's death, and had this translation by his librarian Scheuchzer prepared from the original manuscript. Alt-Japan-Katalog 322; Chadenat 2250 ('Ouvrage tres recherche, orne de nombreuses cartes et planches. Legere mouillure'); Cioranescu XVIII, 16891; Cordier Japonica, 422-423; De Backer 7 Sommervogel II, 1077; Querard II, p. 137.