Paris, chez Didot, 1746-1789.
20 volumes 4to [255 x 185 mm] bound in contemporary marbled calf, spines ribbed and decorated, light brown morocco lettering pieces, edges red. Two corners rubbed. As the publication of this work spread over more than 40 years, the fleurons on the spines of volumes 13 to 20 present a slight difference. Discreet wormholes in the white margin of volume 1.
First edition of this « véritable encyclopédie des voyages, base indispensable de toute bibliothèque américaine ». (Chadenat, 1188 ; Brunet, IV, 868).
The first edition of the 20th volume, which was published in the first days of the French Revolution, is difficult to find.
The present work is illustrated with a portrait engraved by Schmidt and more than 590 engravings (about 260 maps and plans and 330 figures).
« The first seven volumes are a translation of the four volumes of Green’s Collection, published at London in 1745-7, vol. VII. Vols. VIII-XV were compiled by the Abbé Prevost. Vol. XVI, Paris, 1761, is a general index to the fifteen volumes. Vol. XVII, entitled “Suite de l’Histoire Générale des Voyages”, Amsterdam, 1761, contains accounts of the Dutch East Indies, taken from the edition printed at La Haye. Vols. XVIII, XIX and XX, entitled “Continuation de l’Histoire Générale des Voyages”, and dated respectively Paris, 1768, 1770 and 1789, are a continuation of the work by MM. Querlon and De Surgy. An extensive and important collection, including most of the early American voyages and travels. A list of the contents of this and the following editions is given in the catalogue of the Boston Public Library”. Sabin, 65402.
« An important and scarce collection which includes accounts of all the principal early Australian voyages, as well as an account of the discovery of Australia by the Dutch, early voyages to New Guinea and the Palau Islands, and Roggeveen’s voyage to Terres Australes, African voyages including the early Portuguese and English voyages to West Africa and the Cape of Good Hope, with a general account of the Dutch at the Cape. Pacific voyages include those of Magellan, Schouten, and Le Maire, Drake, Sarmiento, Cavendish, Spilbergen, Narborough, Rogers Cowley, Frazier, and Anson. Particularly full accounts are given of the Dutch and French voyages to the East Indies, voyages to China, and the British East India Company’s voyages to India and Ceylon”. (Hill  1391).
A fine copy preserved in its almost uniform contemporary bindings, even though it took 43 years to publish it.