Paris: L'Imprimerie Royale, 1751. ,xxxvi,280,xv pp. plus seven fine engraved folding plates and maps; ,53pp. plus folding plate; ,266,x pp. plus three folding engraved plates. Large quarto. Contemporary French speckled calf, spine gilt, gilt leather label, raised bands. Minor repairs to joints, corners renewed. Three later bookplates on front pastedown, very occasional fox marks or dust-soiling, but internally mostly clean. A handsome copy. Item #WRCAM54752
The first official account of the voyage which Hill described in his earlier bibliography as "the greatest geographical event of the eighteenth century as regards South America." Condamine's voyage account is here bound with a rare work on the pyramids of Quito, HISTOIRE DES PYRAMIDES DE QUITO, and the extensive technical paper on the geodetic measurements taken at the equator, MESURE DES TROIS PREMIERS DEGRES DU MERIDIEN DANS L'HEMISPHERE.... The measurements in the latter work settled a controversy between the Newtonians and the Cartesians over whether the earth was flattened or elongated at the poles. The Newtonian hypothesis was proven correct. Of the work on pyramids, Sabin wrote: "In a London catalogue this work is stated to be very rare, from having been suppressed. This is probably a mistake, as the same work is reprinted with the 'Journal du Voyage.' It was printed separately merely for private distribution, hence its rarity." The voyage was made at the behest of the French Academy of Science with the objective of measuring one exact degree of the dimensions of the earth. Another expedition was sent to Lapland, and the Spaniards cooperated, chiefly in the persons of Ulloa and Jorge Juan. The expedition took the measurement on the Andean Plateau, near Quito, and the text is rich in data on the area, including maps of Quito and Quito Province, the most detailed illustrations of the area to that time. After the scientific observations were concluded, La Condamine returned with his party to the east coast of South America by descending the Amazon, becoming the first scientist with any acumen at observation to make that trip. An earlier, unofficial version of the expedition was published in 1745-46. It found wide popularity and was translated into several languages. Usually, the first and third works here are bound together, though rarely does the work on pyramids appear either at auction or in the trade. Haskell Norman owned both the JOURNAL and MESURE, along with other works by La Condamine, but not the HISTOIRE DES PYRAMIDES. A rare trio of works relating to the exploration of South America in the mid-18th century. Journal...: HILL (1st ed.), p.169 (note). SABIN 38479. NORMAN 1250. Histoire de Pyramides...: PALAU 129381. SABIN 38478. Mesure...: SABIN 38483. BORBA DE MORAES I, p.381. NORMAN 1249.