Rare complete set of “the most valuable 18th-century source on Jesuit activities in frontier regions throughout the world” (Hill, Collection Of Pacific Voyages).
[Jesuit Material] Lettres édificantes.…
et curieuses écrites des missions étrangères, par quelques missionnaires de la Compagnie de Jésus
- Physical description: 34 vol. bound in 32, engraved title vignettes, 36 mostly folding engraved plates and maps (of 38, without portrait of Antoine Verjus, and map of Paraguay, 2 hand-coloured, a few old repairs at folds, some loss to map of “Nouvelles Phillipines” in volume 6, and plate of Chinese inscriptions in volume 10), occasional light foxing or browning, volume 1 with title shaved at lower margin touching imprint, and final leaf repaired with some loss of text, volume 5 with small loss to blank corners on 2 leaves, volume 15 title with small hole touching imprint, volumes 1–28 uniform contemporary calf, spines gilt in compartments with two lettering-pieces, red edges, volumes 29–34 (slightly taller) in similar mottled calf, some rubbing and abrasions, minor worm trails to a few sides and joints, a few spine ends chipped, but generally attractive.
- Inventory reference: 17505
This monumental series, began under the editorship of Charles le Gobien, was intended to provide a history of Jesuit missions and news from China. Subsequently accounts of many Company of Jesuits missionary missives from all the regions of their activities were added, with information on science, medicine, natural history, technology and geography as well as theological matters. Following le Gobain the editorship passed to Jean-Baptiste du Halde, a great proponent of Jesuit science as a means to winning imperial favour in China, and thereafter under several other editors until the final volume was published in 1776.
“Domus probationis Parisiensis Societatis Jesu ad usum novit”, contemporary inscription on the title of volume 1, and and similar inscriptions to titles of volumes 2–28, placing these volumes formerly in the library of the Parisian Jesuit novitiate.