WITH AN 1803 LETTER SIGNED BY NAPOLEON: FIRST EDITION OF BUSSEY'S HISTORY OF NAPOLEON, HANDSOMELY BOUND AND RICHLY EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED WITH NEARLY 200 ADDITIONAL ENGRAVINGS
(NAPOLEON) BUSSEY, George Moir. History of Napoleon. London: Joseph Thomas, 1840. Two volumes extended to four. Large octavo, early 20th-century three-quarter red morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled boards and endpapers, top edges gilt. $16,000.
First edition of Bussey’s excellent biography of Napoleon, with frontispiece and numerous in-text wood-engraved illustrations by Horace Vernet—this copy richly extra-illustrated, expanded from two to four volumes with the insertion of 187 fine engravings, many on india paper, and with a manuscript letter signed in receipt by Napoleon bound into Volume I. Handsomely bound in morocco-gilt by William Hill of Chicago.
A highly readable record of Napoleon's personal life and military career, with a preliminary sketch of the French Revolution. Bussey aims "to review the Life of Napoleon as a whole; not only in its chivalric details, but as to its influence upon the state and prospects of Europe, and the progress of civilization throughout the world" (Preface).
The manuscript letter bound into Volume I is from Captain General DeCaen to Napoleon, dated "10 Ventose an 11 de la Republique" (i.e., March 1, 1803), on DeCaen's printed stationery, three pages on two leaves, and signed "Bonaparte" in acknowledgement of receipt by soon-to-be-Emperor Napoleon. DeCaen, a prominent military leader of the French Republic, wrote this letter just before he left Brest for Pondicherry to serve as governor of the French presence on the Indian island. He writes to thank the First Consul for his portraiture, having previously feared that his transfer to the remote Indian island was a sign of disfavor. Indeed, by most accounts DeCaen and Napoleon did not see eye-to-eye. The letter is addressed to Napoleon, whom DeCaen calls "premier consul, mon général." The 187 additional illustrations comprise 137 portraits and 50 engraved views and scenes. Lowndes, 1649. Bookplates, including an Aldis armorial bookplate designed by Ralph Fletcher Seymour.
Interiors clean and fine; letter with folds and some later penciled markings, Napoleon's "Bonaparte" signature clear and bold. Minor restoration to extremities of handsome morocco-gilt bindings. A richly extra-illustrated copy, most desirable with a letter signed by Napoleon as First Consul.