A Thoughtful and Enterprising Frenchman in Guaymas & Sonora

With a Fine Map of the Western Borderlands Showing the Gadsden Purchase Before & After

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107. COMBIER, C[yprien]). Voyage au Golfe de Californie Grands courants de la mer. Courants généraux atmosphériques.—Usages de la vie maritime.—Tempêtes vers le Pole Austral. Poissons et oiseaux de la mer. Description de la Sonora et de ses richesses minérales. De la Basse Californie, ses volcans, ses produits. Pêche des perles. La Chaine des cordillieres, ses forêts. Nuits de la zone torride par C. Combier. Accompagné d’une carte de la Sonora, dressée par M. V.A. Malte-Brun, Sécrétaire général de la Société de Géographie. Paris: Arthus Bertrand, Éditeur, Libraire de la Société de Géographie, 21, rue Hautefeuille [verso of half title & colophon: Paris.—Imprimé par E. Thunot et Cie, rue Racine, 26], [1864]. [i-v] vi-xvi, [1] 2-544 pp., folded lithograph map (see below). 8vo (23 x 14.7 cm), later dark blue morocco over blue and green marbled boards, original yellow printed wrappers bound in at rear. Wrappers professionally backed and slightly stained; scattered light to moderate foxing, some mild waterstaining to lower gutter. Overall a very good untrimmed copy, map fine.


Carte de Sonora avec l’indication de ses mines d’après la Carte de Garcia y Cubas et les Cartes Américaines par V.A. Malte-Brun [legend below] [along top] Nouvelles Annales des Voyages | Mai 1863. [along bottom] Gravé chez Erhard r. Bonaparte 42 | Arthus Bertrand, Editeur | Paris-Imp. Becquet 37 r. des Noyers. Neat line to neat line: 24.3 x 19.7 cm; overall sheet size: 30 x 22 cm. Original outline color. The excellent map shows Sonora, most of Baja California, and the Borderline between Southern California, Arizona to the Gila Valley, southern New Mexico, Apache lands, and the Gadsden Purchase. The map was drawn from García y Cubas and other sources. The 1853 Gadsden Purchase is outlined in green and designated as “Gadsden ou Arizona.” Both the old Guadalupe-Hidalgo treaty border and the new Treaty of Mesilla border are shown.

     First edition. Barrett 555:“Combier touched at La Paz, Loreto, and Isla de Carmen [between 1828 and 1831].” Hill II:348. Howell 50, California 3517: “Provides abundant information about the products, geology and geography of Sonora.” Monaghan 461. Munk (Alliot), p. 53. Palau 57920. Sabin 14925.

     Hill I, pp. 59-60: “Forced into early retirement for health reasons, Combier set out to write an account of the voyage he had undertaken during the course of his business ventures in the New World. Combier sailed on many voyages aboard the Félice, a vessel owned by him and his shipping associates. Combier established himself primarily in Guaymas and Hermosillo and sailed between Mexican ports such as Guaymas, Acapulco, Mazatlán, and Veracruz. He also visited Valparaiso, Chile, and the La Paz-Loreto environs in Baja California. His observations of the people and terrain of the areas visited were carefully noted and included in his account. The last pages of this book are taken up by what Combier terms 'Révélations' of a theological nature experienced during the voyage.”

     His voyages lasted just over two years and he actually made two. His mind and observations were under the influence of the long-deceased Bernardin de Saint Pierre (d. 1814), whose Études de la nature he admits he read and felt the influence of the author’s ideas and sentiments (p. vii). Thus, the work is colored with a certain Romanticism. During one leg of his, voyage, for example, one of the sailors was a man named Torribio Mendoza, for whom the author developed some admiration and respect: “un esprit éclairé et independent qui avait secoué les erreurs et les préjugés de sa race, et je recherchai sa société.” More importantly, this simple sailor relayed his admiration of Native Americans, whom he trusted and admired, commenting especially on “sa douceur, de sa fidélité et de son aptitude à la civilisation” (p. 251). After Mendoza relates a tale of two Native Americans who became attached to him and served him faithfully until the ends of their lives, Combier concludes: “Cette touchante histoire confirmait mon opinion dès longtemps formée, que les races indigènes du continent américain sont douées de nobles sentiments dont on aurait pu tirer un grand advantage au profit de la civilisation” (p. 253). This is a pure display of the Noble Savage from whom supposedly sophisticated Europeans might learn much.

     Combier specialized in cargos of hides and describes the rancho life. This work provides much information about the products, geology, and geography of Sonora this time.


Sold. Hammer: $200.00; Price Realized: $245.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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