French Commission Scientifique Du Mexique. Archives de la Commission Scientifique du Mexique publiées sous les auspices du Ministère de l’Instruction Publique. París: Imprimerie Impériale, 1864-1869. Vol. I, fascicle 1: ,  2-204 pp; fascicle 2: , 207-400 pp.; fascicle 3:  402-467 [1, blank] pp., 2 plates. Vol. II, fascicle 1: , [1-2] 3-127,  pp., 1 color folded plate; fascicle 2: , 131-208,  pp., 1 color folded plate; fascicle 3: , 210-337 [1, blank] pp., 3 folded plates, 1 folded chart; fascicle 4:  340-431 [1, blank] pp., 7 folded plates (6 color), 2 folded maps; fascicle 5: , 437-499 [1, blank] pp., 2 maps. Vol. III, fascicle 1: ,  2-163 [1, blank] pp., 4 maps (3 folded, 2 color), 6 plates (2 color); fascicle 2:  168-535 [1, blank],  pp., 8 plates (7 folded, 4 color), 3 maps (1 color, 2 folded; including large folding map, see below). 29 plates, 9 maps, and 1 chart (lithographs and engravings), several text illustrations. 3 vols. in 10 parts. 8vo (24 x 16 cm), original salmon printed wrappers in original glassine. Except for a few water spots and some loose plates at the end of Vol. 3, pristine, as issued. The set is housed in a natural linen folding box with gilt lettered tan morocco spine label. In very good condition. This complete set is rare in this condition.
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This is the first edition of the reports and these were not offered for public sale when issued. In 1864, as a consequence of the French invasion of Mexico, Napoleon III established the Commission Scientifique du Mexique, which was to be a large-scale multidisciplinary expedition to Mexico. The commission made many significant contributions to the understanding of the geology, archeology, and geography of Mexico, This in spite of the fact that the expedition ended abruptly with the French withdrawal from Mexico in 1867. The commission’s work was also hampered by the fact that the country was at war, and that situation made it difficult for members to do research unless they were under military protection.?Important publications from the commission’s work continued to appear for decades. Because two of the French scientists landed first at California before making their way to Mexico, the reports include material about mining in California and the American West, although those areas were not technically part of Mexico at the time. Included is text by E. Guillemin-Tarayre and two maps relating to mines in Lower California, with brief notices of the mines in Upper California (Vol. II, fascicle 4, pp. 403-415). In Vol. III, fascicle 2, pp. 341-537 is a long article by Guillemin-Tarayre entitled “Notes Archéologiques et Ethnographiques” which presents separate articles on linguistics for Mexico, along with Native Americans in New California, New Mexico, and the Borderlands.?Expedition members also examined Mexican materials from French archives, including those from the Boban collection. Among the contributors to this work are a number of prominent French Mesoamericanists of the time, including Aubin and Brasseur de Bourbourg. In the reports is Brasseur de Bourbourg’s excellent archaeological analysis of Maya ruins, Perhaps the most significant illustration in this work is a large, vividly colored, folding lithograph of the Boban calendar wheel (named after Eugène Boban, a French archeologist) The illustration contains parts now lost from the original thorough deterioration. The plate is in Vol. III, fascicle 1, p. 120, accompanied by an article by Colonel Doutrelaine. The calender wheel includes a symbolic representation of the months and days of the Aztec year with explanatory text in Nahuatl language transcribed into European script. At top left of the interior circle is a depiction of Hernando decor [Hernán Cortés?] wearing a black Spanish hat seated on a blue circle [the Lake of Mexico?], at top right is Don Antonio Pimentel [son of Ixtlilxochitl, an ally of Cortés, and last native king of Tezcuco] seated on a representation of a mountain [the Sierras of Acolhuan]. In the middle is an image of Netzcualcoyotl [the king of Acolhuan], and Itzcohuatl [his ally, the king of Mexico]. Each is enthroned with their symbol in front of them. At bottom, are depictions of the ancient Chichimecas, founders of the Tezcuco empire, or native Americans, who sit before a sacrificial fire which rises to the sun.?The map in the set is: Carte des Régions Mexicaines explorées Pendant les Années 1864, 1865 et 1866. Voyage de E. Guillemin-Tarayre, Gravé chez Erhard Imprimé à l’Imprimerie Impériale. Paris, 1867. Engraved map of Mexico, showing present U.S. to Central America, with red lines showing Guillemin-Tarayre’s route and the places visited in red shading. Light to moderately foxed.?Another contribution of note is the ascent of Mt. Popocatepetl in 1865 by the party of Aguste de Dollfus. Another report outlines the exploration of Casas Grandes (140 miles southwest of El Paso) and research on a meteorite found there weighing 3,407 pounds. Also worthy of note is meteorologist Andrès Poey’s article on polarization of the atmosphere, “Note sur Coloration et la Polarisation de la Lumiêre de la Lune durant L’Èclipse Totale du 30 Mars 1866, Observée á Mexico.” As might be expected, the work is rich in material on mines, mining and minerals in Mexico.