Established 1976  


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Collot, French Habitation in the Country of the Illinois. Paris, 1805 (1826). 5 x 7. Uncolored as issued. A few small brown spots in margins, else Fine. Sold

General Georges H.V. Collot drew this home from personal observation in the Illinois Bottom when he toured the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys as a French agent in 1796. His trip was undertaken at the request of Pierre Adet, France's Minister to the United States. Adet may have had plans to attack Spanish possessions in Louisiana so Collot's surveys were of military interest.

Collot had served under Rochambeau in the American Revolution. He aroused little suspicion when he made his western trip as a civilian tourist, but the maps and drawings he made show the trained eye of a military engineer. Collot made careful sketches of every fortified post and settlement along his route, and managed to smuggle his drawings and notes back to France. These weren't printed until his death in 1805. However, France had just sold Louisiana to the United States and publication was delayed again.

Collot's collected maps and plans were published in Voyages dans l'Amerique Septentrional... (Journey in North America...) in 1826. There were 100 English-language sets and 300 in French. Excess volumes were destroyed at that time, thus it is a scarce work. Each atlas contained 36 engraved plates.

This engraving shows a home much like the Martin-Boismenue House near Cahokia, Illinois built by Revolutionary War veteran Pierre Martin, circa 1790.

There are minor differences such as ours shows one central chimney versus chimneys at each end of the Martin-Boismenue House. Thus our engraving, based on a contemporary drawing, shows a typical home in the region in the late 18th century.

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