LA PÉROUSE, Jean François de Galaup, comte de (1741-1788)
Chart of Part of the North West Coast of America explored by the Boussole & Astrolabe in 1786. 1st Sheet
London: G.G. & J. Robinson, 1798[-1799]. Original copper engraving. Sheet size: 21 1/2 x 17 inches.
This detailed map shows the south eastern part of Alaska.
A fine copy of this engraving from Robinson's edition "usually considered to be the best one in English ... [and is] extremely rare" (Hill), picturing and charting La Perouse's ill-fated voyage round the world. "La Pérouse's expedition was one of the most important scientific explorations ever undertaken to the Pacific and the west coast of North America ... The charge to the expedition [which took place between 1785 and 1788] was to examine such parts of the region as had not been explored by Captain Cook; to seek for an interoceanic passage; to make scientific observations on the various countries, peoples, and products; to obtain reliable information about the fur trade and the extent of Spanish settlements in California; and to promote the inducements for French enterprise in that quarter ... La Pérouse and his men did important geographical research ... The voyage also included the first foreign scientific group ever to visit California. La Pérouse sent dispatches back to France from Kamchatka and Botany Bay. The two ships then set sail from Botany Bay, in 1788, and were never heard from again" (Hill). It was not until the 1820s that the wrecks of his ships were discovered on a reef in the Santa Cruz group. When it became clear that something had happened to the expedition, a decision was made to publish the journals he had transmitted home.
Cowan p.383; Ferguson 288; Hill (2004) 975; Howes L93, 'b'; Lada-Mocarski 52; Sabin 38962; TPL 596; Wagner Cartography of the Northwest Coast 837-848, pp.199-201; Zamorano 49.