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French Intervention in Mexico

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17.     [ATLAS]. NIOX, Gustave Leon. [Untitled atlas to Niox’s Expédition du Mexique 1861-1867. Récit Politique & Militaire. Paris: Librairie Militaire de J. Dumaine, 1874]. 5 lithograph maps (3 folded). 4to (27.2 x 22.5 cm), contemporary brown sheep over black and green mottled boards, spine with raised bands and gilt lettered (G. Niox Expédition du Mexique 1861-1867 Atlas), marbled endpapers. Bound in before maps: “Notice sur la carte du Mexique” from Bulletin de la Société du Géographie. [colophon: Paris: Imprimerie de E. Martinet, rue Mignon, 2]. [1] 2-22 [3, blank] pp. 8vo (25 x 15 cm). Light shelf wear and corners slightly bumped, otherwise fine. Contents very fine.


Combat des Cumbres (28 Avril 1862) Combat de la Barranca-Seca (18 Mai 1862). Uncolored lithograph. Overall sheet size: 20.5 x 24.6 cm.

Environs d’Orizaba. Uncolored lithograph. Overall sheet size: 24.3 x 18.6 cm.

Plan de Puebla et des environs pour servir a l’intelligence du combat du 5 Mai 1862 livrée par le Général de Lorencez sur les hauteurs de Guadalupe, et des opérations du siège dirigé par le Gal. Forey (du 16 Mars au 18 Mai 1863). [2 insets] [1] Combat de Sn. Lorenzo (8 Mai 1863); [2] Détails du Cadre de Santa-Ines (Attaque du 25 Avril 1863). Uncolored lithograph. Overall sheet size: 35.5 x 60 cm. One small split at fold (no losses).

Plan d’Oajaca. Uncolored lithograph. Overall sheet size: 39 x 24.5 cm.

Carte du Mexique dressée au dépôt de la guerre Par M. Niox, Capitaine d’État Majeur. D’après les levés des officiers du corps expéditionaire et les renseignements recueillis par le Bureau Topographique. Paris, 1873 [inset] Carte des divisions politiques. Chromolithograph, with brown land forms and blue water. 8 sections mounted on contemporary cartographic linen. Neat line to neat line: 70.1 x 104.5 cm.

     First edition. Palau 191775 & 191776. Phillips, America, p. 414 (offprint and map). Phillips, Atlases 18068. Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers, revised edition, Vol. III, p. 327.

     In the offprint Niox discusses the making of the map, its improvements over previous maps, and the general geography of Mexico. The offprint is divided into four sections: [1] A general discussion of the map; [2] “Positions astronomiques” (latitude and longitude for numerous towns); [3] “Altitudes”; and [4] “Principaux documents antérieurement publiés et consultés pour l’établissement de la carte du Mexique.”

     Niox states in the pamphlet that the general map was drawn up for use of the French troops protecting Maximilian in their actions against the Mexicans, 1861-1867. This map embodies the best French reconnaissance of the Intervention in Mexico, upon which the campaign depended. Niox remarks that at the onset of the invasion, French cartographic materials on Mexico were negligible and of little military use, consisting of only a few general sources, primarily the work of García Cubas. As the French army advanced through Mexico, however, officers scoured such places as municipal offices and area haciendas for maps, which they then copied and collated with other sources. The collection at the Sociedad de Geografía at Mexico City was a gold mine, of course, although it hardly had a collection that covered the whole country in detail, Niox remarks. Other maps and measurements were made in the field on the fly by soldiers using what crude instruments they had. Thus is explained how this important map was built up bit by bit, area by area, until it reached its present status. Of particular interest in the last section of the pamphlet are Niox’s comments, both negative and positive, on the maps he consulted. He praises García Cubas’ atlas of Mexico as the best hitherto available, but claims his own map shows considerable improvement (“progrès sérieux”). Judging from the list presented of the map collection at the Dépôt de la Guerre after the war (pp. 7-8), France was hardly deficient in Mexican maps at the end and probably had the best such collection in Europe.

     Niox (1841-1921), head of the topographic corps of the French Expeditionary Army, later commanded the French army’s Topographical Corps, supervising map construction during World War I. He was a prolific writer on geographical and military subjects.

     This is a fine, complete copy of the rare atlas, including the even rarer offprint explaining the genesis and importance of the large Mexico map.


Sold. Hammer: $600.00; Price Realized: $720.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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