Le Tableau de l’Isle de Tabago, ou de la Nouvelle Oüalchre, L’une des Isles Antilles de l’Amérique, Dependante de la souveraineté des Hauts & Puissans Seigneurs les Estats Generaus des Provinces Unies des Païs-Bas. Charles de Rochefort.
Le Tableau de l’Isle de Tabago, ou de la Nouvelle Oüalchre, L’une des Isles Antilles de l’Amérique, Dependante de la souveraineté des Hauts & Puissans Seigneurs les Estats Generaus des Provinces Unies des Païs-Bas.
The First Book on Tobago

Le Tableau de l’Isle de Tabago, ou de la Nouvelle Oüalchre, L’une des Isles Antilles de l’Amérique, Dependante de la souveraineté des Hauts & Puissans Seigneurs les Estats Generaus des Provinces Unies des Païs-Bas.

A Leyde [Leyden]: Chez Jean Le Carpentier, 1665. First edition. In contemporary vellum. Woodcut device on the title page. Woodcut initials, head-, and tailpieces. [16] 143 [3] p. Binding slightly worn, spine restored. A light brown stain at the upper corner, affecting the first third of the book. Otherwise in fine condition.

The very scarce first edition of the first book entirely dedicated to Tobago; one of the earliest emigrant guides to the New World.

The book was written by Charles de Rochefort (1605–1683) the French Huguenot pastor and missionary in the Antilles in the service of the Lampsins brothers. He was in the islands in 1636 and 1648 and returned to France in 1650. From 1653 he served as the minister of the French church in Rotterdam until his death. His books on the Antilles were published during his residence in Holland, Histoire naturelle et morale des Isles Antilles de l'Amérique in 1658, Le Tableau de l’Isle de Tabago in 1665, and Recit de l'estat present des celebres colonies in 1681. Unlike Histoire, the two latter works were definitely written with the purpose to provide guidance for Protestant emigrants, thus Le Tableau, by many bibliographers is considered as the first emigrant guide to the Americas. It describes Tobago’s topography, natural history, inhabitants, economy, government, and administration, mentions several pioneer planters and plantations by names, and gives their localizations.

Le Tableau was also intended to support the Lampsins’ scheme to colonize the island. The Lampsins brothers Adrian and Cornelius led the Dutch colonial expedition to Tobago in 1654. After taking control over the island they were elevated to Barons by the French King Louis XIV and reigned until the English invaded the island in 1666.

According to the Rochefort-bibliography compiled by Everett C. Wilkie Jr., Le Tableau exists in four slightly distinct states (the present copy is the 4th state), its second edition, which already indicates the author, was published the next year in Paris under the title Relation de l'Isle de Tabago […], and the first German translation appeared in 1700(?).

Extremely scarce, the aforementioned bibliography lists only 6 copies of the book in institutional holdings, rarebookhub.com shows no copies in auctions for the last almost seventy years.

Barbier 17507; Cioranescu 59874; Dampierre pp. 139-40; Palau 271897; Sabin 72324.

Literature: Wilkie, Everett C. Jr. 1992. The authorship and purpose of the "Histoire naturelle et morale des îles Antilles", an early Huguenot emigration guide. Harvard Library Bulletin 2 (3), Fall 1991: 27–84.

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Price: €10,000.00

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