TASSIN, Nicholas (fl. 1633-1655). Cartes generale et particulieres de toutes les costes de France, tant de la mer Oceane que Mediterranee. Paris: Melchior Tavernier, 1634.
2 parts in one volume, oblong folio (10 6/8 x 15 4/8 inches). Text in French and Latin. 2 engraved additional title-pages decorated with elaborate allegorical rococo cartouches. Large folding engraved key chart, decorated with two superb allegorical cartouches, elaborate compass rose, a variety of sailing ships and boats, and a sea monster (short tear near the mount), with a further 29 fine full-page very elegant engraved charts of the French coastline, each decorated with large compass rose, a variety of sailing ships and boats, sea monsters and the scale within asymmetrical rococo cartouches. Contemporary limp vellum (a few pale stains).
Provenance: with the ownership inscription of Sir Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (1653-1716), Scottish patriot, and one of Britain's greatest bibliophiles at the time of the Glorious Revolution, whose library was reconstructed by P.J.M. Willems in 2001, at the head of the title-page and purchase information "3 gul: 10 st:" on front free endpaper; Ex-Libris Jean R. Perrette, his sale, Christie's New York, 5th April 2016, lot 41.
One of two editions with different imprints published in the same year, with no priority established.
AN ATTRACTIVE COPY, of this comprehensive record of 17th-century French coastline, created to help with the nation's defences, and a suitable companion to Tassin's Les plans et profils de toutes les principales villes et lieux considérables de France. Ensemble, les cartes generales de chacune province & les particulieres de chaque gouvernement d'icelles, also 1634, which described and depicted the principal cities and towns of each Province of France. The 29 beautiful maps combined information gathered by Tassin and other cartographers: the first part charting the Atlantic coastline from Calais to San Sebastian; the second, the Mediterranean coastline between the Spanish border and Villefranche.
Tassin was appointed 'royal cartographer' at Dijon before establishing himself as an engraver in Paris where he issued a number of small atlases of France and Swtizerland. A predecessor of Jaillot, who ultimately bought his business, and Sanson, and so also the forerunner of the celebrated French School of cartography.
The early years of the 1630s, when this atlas was being prepared, were years of turmoil in Europe: the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) was at its height. Initially a war between Protestant and Catholic states in the fragmenting Holy Roman Empire, it gradually developed into a more general conflict involving most of the great powers of Europe, becoming less about religion and more a continuation of the France–Habsburg rivalry for European political pre-eminence. The following year, in 1635, the Franco-Dutch alliance led to the French conquest of the Walloon provinces and a sustained French drive into Flanders. The republic and Spain, fearful of the growing power of France, concluded a separate peace in 1648 by which Spain finally recognized Dutch independence, which brought the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) to an end.
From the distinguished library of celebrated Scottish Patriot Sir Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun. Fletcher spent several periods of many years in exile from his beloved Scotland in exile in Europe, for his political views. It is therefore not surprising that he should have an atlas of the coastline of France in his large collection of mostly historical and political writings. The currency of purchase recorded by Fletcher appears to the Dutch guilder, and he is recorded as having lived in Over a lifetime of collecting, "Fletcher built up a library of some 6000 books, almost certainly the largest private library in Scotland at the time. He left two manuscript catalogues of his books (one much fuller than the other), and since the books themselves were not dispersed until the 1960s, it has proved possible to reconstruct the library's contents (see Willems). In buying and arranging his books, Fletcher may have followed the advice of earlier bibliophiles such as Naudé, but the balance of the library clearly reflected personal interests. The largest categories were those of historians, poets, orators, and legislators; rather less space was taken by theologians, physicians, mathematicians, and jurists. Classical authors (often in several editions) were numerous, and he had an excellent collection of histories and modern political works. Protestant and Catholic authors co-existed under theologians, but alongside a disproportionate amount of heterodoxy. Although Galileo, Descartes, and Robert Boyle were represented, Fletcher evidently did not aim to keep up with the new natural philosophy: there was no work by Isaac Newton. There were books in Latin, Greek, English, French, Italian, and Spanish, though he is not known to have spoken Spanish. How well he knew Greek is also uncertain: Lord Hailes believed that he went late to its study, and Fletcher was in his forties when he confessed to his brother on 13 December 1699 that he would willingly exchange knowing it ‘for all the knowledge I have of anything’ (Saltoun papers, NL Scot., MS 16502, fol. 172)" (John Robertson for DNB). Pastoureau Tassin V Ac; see Nordenskiold 292 (also 1634); Tooley p. 42 ('Cartes gen. de toutes le costes de France').