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A Beautiful Example in Original Binding of the First Edition of Hennepin's First and Finest Work. With His Famous Map.

12mo (6x3 inches). 2 parts in 1 volume. [12], 312, 107 pages + folding map (i.e., complete). Contemporary calf, raised bands to spine, tooled in gilt, red morocco lettering piece, boards with blind tooled fillet, nicely restored. A wide-margined copy, not tampered with by 19th-century French binders as is sometimes the case; scattered dampstain to the text, mostly marginal, strongest at Ciii-[Cv]; a fine copy of the important map, newly mounted on a stub, very clean and in a very strong impression.

First edition. Hennepin (1626 - c.1701) was a Franciscan missionary and explorer. He received orders to travel to Canada in an expedition approved by the powerful Minister Colbert and commanded by the King of France, accompanying Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, recently appointed to the governorship of Fort Frontenac, in Nouvelle France. In 1675 they set sail. The vessel also carried Francois de Laval de Montmorency, Bishop of Quebec, whose acquaintance proved useful in Canada. Upon making port in the French dominions of Canada, Hennepin began traveling without comfort throughout the region, providing us a testimony of his explorer spirit, his luggage often being carried by dogs, at other times by canoe (Catholic Encyclopedia). These experiences gained him knowledge on the language and customs of the natives. In 1679, Hennepin joined the expedition led by La Salle through the Great Lakes. It is during this expedition that the Niagara Falls and the Saint Anthony Falls (Minneapolis) were discovered.

In 1683, Hennepin's account was published, giving us with the first report of Niagara Falls, the first description of Louisiana, the first account of the headwaters of the Mississippi above the Wisconsin and the first map to name Louisiana.

"This is the earliest printed account of La Salle's 1678-79 expedition to Illinois (and the building of Fort Crevecoeur), written by the explorer's close companion, Father Hennepin. It is the first to relate Hennepin's travels up the Mississippi, his discovery of the Falls of St. Anthony, and his captivity among the Sioux. It is also the first to describe Niagara Falls and to use the name Louisiana. The Description is considered Hennepin's most accurate work. A Recollect missionary who spent 11 years in America, he was one of the great pioneers of exploration in the western Great Lakes and the upper Mississippi." (Nebenzahl).

The map, Carte de la Nouvelle France et de la Louisiane, is remarkably important, its influence cannot be overstated as it is the first map to name Louisiana. The map was engraved by Roussel and embellished with a cartouche by N. Guerard.

A rare book in the market, especially when complete with the map. Until 1999 (the Siebert Sale, Sotheby's New York, Oct 28, lot 660, $48,875), no copy is registered at auction for over 25 years (AE). Nebenzahl offered a copy in 1979 for $5,500.

Dow, Niagara Falls, page 23; European Americana 683/96; Graff 1858; Greenly 8; Howes H415 ("c"); Sabin 31347; Schwartz & Ehrenberg, page 130; Streeter sale I:102; Vail 222; Wheat, Transmississippi West, 62 and pages I:49-50.