A recent rare book acquisition by the University Libraries’ Special Collections


The Special Collections and University Archives department of the University Libraries’ was fortunate to acquire recently a remarkable rare book for the William J. Haggerty Collection of French Colonial HistoryDes colonies; particulièrement de la Guyane française.  It was written by P.-Ch. de Saint-Amant, who was the  private secretary to the Baron de Laussat, governor of Guyana.   The book was published by Chez Barrois & Delaunay in Paris in 1821.

This is a scarce first edition, and of which only 12 copies exist.  References to this work can be found in Sabin 74985; but not in Muller; not in Howes; not in Leclerc; not in the Beinecke Lesser Antilles Collection; nor in Kress, Goldsmiths’ or Einaudi.

From the description of the dealer’s catalogue, the work is divided into two sections:  the first section deals with the history, government, institutions, commerce and cultivation of French Guyana in particular, and the second part deals with the French government’s projects  to populate the colonies in general by various means:  invitations to Chinese labors and free people of color from the British colonies to work in the colony;  the use of galley slaves to populate the colonies and the possibility importing French farmers.  This book is a primary source and adds to the printed information contained in the William J. Haggerty Collection of French Colonial History.

Despite numerous attempts in the 1850s to import workers from elsewhere, including convicts from France, to work the plantations, almost all of these attempts to populate and develop the colony failed.

The binding is contemporary brown half calf with tree marbled paper covered boards.  The spine is in gilt compartments with gilt lettering to spine.  It’s pagination is:  xiv, [2], 246, [2, errata, blank] pp. 8vo.

Although not yet cataloged, the book is still available for study in the Special Collections and University Archives department of the Bartle Library.  Special Collections and University Archives is open to the public Monday – Friday, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.