2 FORFAIT, manual on shipbuilding / Virtual Rare Book Fair 106


Description: Ship building for the French navy on the eve of the Revolution

FORFAIT, Pierre Alexandre Laurent.
Traité élémentaire de la mâture des vaisseaux, à l'usage des élèves de la marine, composé & publié, d'après les ordres de monsigneur le Maréchal De Castries, ministre et secrétaire d'Etat au Département de la Marine.

Paris, Clousier, 1788. 4to. Contemporary marbled calf, spine ribbed and richly gilt, with red title-label, lettered in gold, gilt binding edges, marbled end-papers. With 190 illustrations and figures on 24 folding engraved plates by Benard. XL, 294 pp.

Original edition of an extensive manual and text book on all aspects of ship building, esp. ships for the French navy. The section on masting begins with two chapters on different rigs, and includes a great deal of practical information, including much on sails, and the whole rigging of a ship, technical as wel as practical, not only for the large sea-fearing ships, but also for the smaller vessels. The plates show typical rigging for various vessel types, geometry involved, the making of compound masts, and a handsome three-part plate of a crew getting a huge mast out. A second edition appeared in 1831, a reprint edition in 1979.
The author, Pierre Alexandre Laurent Forfait (1752-1807), was a French engineer, hydrographer and politician, and Minister of the Navy. He became Napoleon Bonaparte's first Minister of the navy after the 18 Brumaire. He was a member of the Académie Royale de Marine, and later of l'Academie des sciences, to which he contributed numerous memoirs. He was charged with the creation of a French fleet of packet-boats for a regular transatlantic service to the French colonies.

Fine copy.- (Hinges weak, sm. marg. tear in one of the plates).
Cat. Ned. Hist. Scheepv. Mus. p. 751; Anderson p. 41; Polak 3522; Scott 410; MacDonald 257 ('An important 18th century French treatise on masting and rigging; valuable plates').
  • Number: 1060198 (C2GEBYR1MSG6)
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum