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Two signed autograph letters and a note by one of the most famous explorers
of the first half of the 19th century

[Autograph letter from Dumont D'Urville to Pierre Adolphe Lesson].
Paris, 19 September 1829. 13 x 10.2 cm.
(2) DUMONT D'URVILLE, Jules Sébastien César. [Autograph letter from Dumont D'Urville to Mr. Rousset].
Paris, 14 December 1841. 21 x 13 cm.
(3) [DUMONT D'URVILLE, Jules Sébastien César]. [Autograph note by Dumont D'Urville].
[France?, first half of the 19th century?]. 8 x 10 cm.
Written in French, in a neat early 19th century cursive in brown ink. Folded. Ad 1: [1], [2 blank], [1]; ad 2: [1], [2 blank], [1]; ad 3: [1], [1 blank] pp.
€ 6,000
Ad 1: Autograph letter, signed, by the great French explorer Jules Sébastien César Dumont dUrville (1890-1842) written a half year after he returned from his famous second journey of exploration with the ship Astrolabe from 22 April 1826 to 25 March 1829. This important voyage was one in a great series undertaken by the French government in the early 19th century for scientific and political purposes. Its intention was to gain additional information about the principal groups of islands in the Pacific. DUrvilles ship, the Astrolabe sailed south, around the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived in Port Jackson. It proceeded to New Zealand, surveying its coasts, especially the southern part of Cook Strait, with great care. D'Urville explored Tonga and parts of the Fiji Archipelago, then New Britain, New Guinea, Amboina, Tasmania, Vanikoro (where they foun remnants of La Perouses ship, also called Astrolabe, lost in 1788), Guam and Java. They returned home via Mauritius and the Cape. Huge amounts of scientific materials were collected and published in the well-known and magnificent series of dUrvilles Voyage de la Corvette lAstrolabe execute par ordre du roi, pendant les années 1826-1829 (Paris, J. Tastu. 1830-1834) in 13 text and 5 atlas volumes. The botanical part was written by Pierre Adolphe Lesson (1805-1888), a botanist who had joined the expedition and had also served as surgeon on the Astrolabe. In the letter dUrville invites Lesson to attend a meeting organized by General De Maethou (? or Mackau?) on Monday 21 September 1829 for the officers of the Astrolabe.
Ad 2: Autograph letter, signed, by Jules Sébastien César Dumont dUrville, written a few months before his death. He died together with his family in a well-known train accident on their way back from Versailles to Paris. He invites "in the name of his wife" the pharmacist Rousset to a dinner for 19 participants of "our last voyage" (Rousset apparently was the pharmacist on the voyage), to be given on 16 December at 5 o'clock.
This "last voyage" was the second voyage with the Astrolabe, an expedition ordered by King Louis Philippe to the South Pole to claim it for France. If that would be not possible Dumont d'Urville was asked to equal the most southernly latitude achieved in 1823 by James Weddell. Thus, France became part of the international competition for polar exploration. Two ships, the Astrolabe and the Zélée were prepared and they sailed from Toulon on 7 September 1837. They reached the South Orkney Islands via the Strait of Magellan. Due to the cold and thick ice, the conditions on board rapidly deteriorated and Dumont dUrville had to return to Chili in March 1838. After a second attempt to reach the South Pole, the expedition turned to the north and via Hobart and the Auckland Islands the two vessels returned to Toulon on 6 November 1840. On his return, Dumont dUrville was promoted to rear Admiral and took over the writing of the report of the expedition, which was published with the title Voyage au pole sud et dans locéanie ... 1837-1840 (Paris, 1841-1854).
Ad 3: Note written by Dumont dUrville, apparently as the caption to "Plate 73" of one of his works. The plate would contain (copies of) 3 views from other works: (1) Sauvage de lile Mangea (from Cook p. 151, pl. 11); (2) Moraï abandonné sur lile Malden (from Georg Anson Byron, Voyage of HMS Blonde to the Sandwich Islands in 1824-1825 (London 1826); (3) Massacre des français à Maouna (engraving of the death of Commander Fleuriot Angle and 12 men in 1788 on the island of Maoua during the expedition of La Pérouse in the Pacific, 1785-1788).
Ads 1 and 3 with some later pencil inscriptions. The leaves are slightly browned and show faint folding lines. Ad 1: with some postal ink stamps and other markings from having been sent, with a small defect to one of the corners of the leaf from where the letter was sealed, and subsequently opened by the addressee. Ad 2 with remnants of a seal and a small defect to the leaf from where the letter was sealed, and subsequently opened by the addressee. Otherwise in good condition. Ad 1: Anker 410; Hill 504; Nissen (BBI) 555; Nissen (IVB) 752; Claude Stefani, "Pierre-Adolphe Lesson un acteur et témoin méconnu de lexploration du Pacifique ...", in: Actes du colleque Lapérouse et les explorateurs du Pacifique ... (1760-1840) (2008); for the author: Howgego 1800-1850, D34.
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Autographs, documents & manuscripts  >  Autographs & Letters
Cartography & exploration  >  Voyages & Travel
Maritime history  >  Naval History