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Short autograph note signed by La Pérouse
At sea 1785 - Small sheet, 120 x 135 mm., old folds, clearly and legibly written and docketed; very good. La Pérouse needs 400 metres of canvas for his schooner. Exceptionally rare: an autograph note signed by the great French explorer La Pérouse. Hordern House has never before handled an example of any letter in his hand, let alone confidently signed, as here.The extraordinary story and achievements of La Pérouse are well known, and recounted in the handsome official account of his expedition. However, because of the fact that he was lost without trace mid-voyage, manuscript material relating to his life is very rare indeed; the obvious point of comparison would be with anything relating to Bligh on the Bounty. In the note La Pérouse asks that his boat ("goelete") be given an impressive 286 "aunes" of canvas which is needed on board. The vessel known as a "goelete" - now more normally goélette - is usually considered to mean schooner, while an "aune" was an old-fashioned French word usually translated as "ell" or cubit: a French aune is recorded as being around 54 inches, meaning that La Pérouse is in fact asking for almost 400 metres of canvas. The sheer quantity of the request speaks to La Pérouse having written the note while in charge of a large vessel, but it is unlikely that either of his ships of discovery are meant, as the Astrolabe and the Boussole are usually listed as flûtes. La Pérouse had joined the navy as a 15 year old in 1756, seeing a good deal of action in American waters during the Seven Years War. The document is counter-signed and noted as "delivered" by one "Deletombe": it seems very likely that this is Philippe-André-Joseph de Létombe, who arrived in the United States in 1781, and was the French Consul in Boston and a correspondent of Thomas Jefferson. If this identification is correct, the note would possibly date from La Pérouse's cruising in the West Indies and along the coast to Hudson Bay in 1781 and 1782. [Attributes: Signed Copy]
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2015-06-17           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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