The fine and rare official account of the most important exploration in Indochina in the nineteenth century, only 800 sets produced. A beautiful example in original binding with bright gilt-lettering.
Once described as ‘the happiest and most complete [expedition] of the nineteenth century’ – no doubt on account of the 700 litres of wine and 300 litres of brandy it took with it.
The expedition left Saigon in 1866 proceeding along the Mekong in the hope of finding a navigable route into south-western China. They travelled through Phnom Penh, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos before reaching China. Although the Mekong was found to be ultimately unnavigable, the expedition mapped some 4000 miles of previously unsurveyed territory, and became the first Europeans to enter Yunnan by a southern route. The maps are by Garnier himself; the fine views are after sketches by Louis Delaporte, a naval officer and accomplished artist, and it is his work which makes the mission one of the most pictorially complete for the exploration of Indochina. Amongst the most important images are those of Angkor in Cambodia and Viet Chan, the ancient Laotian capital.
Garnier (1839-1873), after heroic behaviour whilst serving on board the Duperré as part of a Franco-British expedition to China to demand concessions from the Chinese government, came to the attention of Admiral Charner, the commander of French naval forces in the Far East. He became a member of Charner’s staff and joined him in actions against the Vietnamese army in the Mekong delta. It was at this time that Garnier, who had long deplored the fact that Britain, not France, was the major European colonial power, began to see the Mekong as the key to the prosperity of France’s new colony in Vietnam.
After returning to Paris, Garnier was appointed Inspecteur des affaires indigènes in Cochin-China. He returned to Vietnam and pressed the French government to carry out the present major survey of the Mekong.
First edition. 3 vols comprising 2 vols 4to text with portrait frontispiece, 11 maps, 1 plate, plan, and wood-engravings in text; folio atlas with 12 maps, 9 plans, 1 aerial view (some tinted), and 48 plates (including 44 bis) on 40 sheets (6 double-page), 11 of the plates in full colour. Original morocco-backed blind-stamped cloth gilt, repairs to corners, old stains to atlas spine, an excellent set.
Cordier (Sinica), 329 & (Indosinica), 1012.
Stock ID: 97034