Elephant folio (645 x 505 mm.), contemporary full red morocco, gilt panelled with central coat-of-arms of Marie-Adélaïde of France (added at a later date), borders of two triple fillets, corners stamped with fleur-de-lys, ornate gilt spine in eight compartments with seven raised bands, gilt-lettered in second, others filled with a semé of fleur-de-lys, gilt edges, some minor rubbing and staining. With engraved architectural title, Catalogue of Contents and 44 double-page engraved maps with early outline colour, many with accompanying tables, mounted on guards. Some light darkening mostly marginal staining to last few pages, a few maps with short marginal tears or light creasing as usual, otherwise a very good example of a very rare atlas.
THE FIRST EDITION of the original FRENCH ISSUE, EXTREMELY RARE. ‘In many ways Alexis-Hubert Jaillot is seen as the cartographer who continued the endeavour begun by Nicolas Sanson of improving the quality of French mapmaking. He was born in the Franche-Comté around 1632, and with his brother Simon he travelled in 1657 to Paris to work. They were both maîtres sculpteurs, or engravers. Alexis-Hubert’s future was determined largely by his marriage to Jeanne Berey in 1664. She was the daughter of Nicolas Berey, a merchant of engravings. Alexis-Hubert found himself drawn into the business following the deaths of his father-in-law the following year, and his brother-in-law, Nicolas II, in 1667. From the latter’s widow Alexis-Hubert and his wife acquired the geographical parts of the business. The idea for ‘L’Atlas Nouveau’ began before 1670; it was to be a larger format of Sanson’s successful work. However, Alexis-Hubert had to turn to Guillaume and Adrien Sanson, the sons of Nicolas, to provide the necessary capital to begin the project. The initial contract committed the brothers Sanson to provide eighteen maps … Further contracts followed over the years.
By 1681 Jaillot had enough material to publish ‘L’Atlas Nouveau’. With the destruction of the Blaeu family business by fire in 1672, and the general lack of other competition, a ready market for a quality atlas had grown. Further editions appeared in 1684 and in 1689. The relationship between the Sanson brothers and Jaillot, rarely smooth, appears to have broken down altogether by 1690. In that year Pierre Mortier began work on a facsimile edition in Amsterdam’ (Burden). ‘Jaillot’s maps are in large and handsome format, finely printed on the best paper, the titles and scales of miles within elaborate and large cartouches, usually depicting the characteristic costumes and products of the country delineated, and some have inset views’ (Tooley). Whereas the Dutch edition by Mortier is relatively common the French editions are much rarer, indeed the last auction record for this first edition is back in 1958!
The table of content lists 44 maps and leaves blank spaces for additional maps. This atlas includes one additional map of Picardie dated the year of publication 1681, the map ‘Les Provinces Unies des Pais-Bas, avec leurs acquisitions dans la Flandre’ was not included in the atlas. This example of the atlas has a distinguished provenance. It was in the royal library of Princess Marie Adélaïde of France (1732-1800). The books of the Mesdames de France, the three surviving daughters of Louis XV and Marie Leczinska, are distinguished by the colour of the morocco in which they were bound: red for Madame Adélaïde, green for Madame Victoire, and citron for Madame Sophie. Madame Adélaïde as she was known was the eldest of the sisters and considered the most intelligent. Her library was the most extensive. By 1753-54 when Madame Adélaïde was only about 21, her library already comprised some 750 books. Provenance: Princess Marie Adélaïde of France (1732-1800), eldest of the Mesdames of France, the three surviving daughters of Louis XV and Marie Leczinska (arms on binding close to but not identical with Olivier 2514, fer 4); bookplate pasted inside front cover ‘Ex Libris J.R.P.’. Burden (2007) no. 438; Pastoureau (1984) Jaillot 1 Aa, pp. 229-62; Tooley (1949) p. 41.