According to the account in Quinton and Robinson (Francois LeVaillant, Traveller in South Africa ), no sooner had LeVaillant (1753- 1824) arrived at the Cape in 1780 at the age of 27, than he lost everything but the clothes he was standing in (and a few coins in his pocket) when the Dutch East India merchant vessel on which he was a passenger was attacked and destroyed by a British naval force. Nevertheless, with renewed resources provided by his sponsor in Holland, the naturalist and merchant Jacob Temminck, LeVaillant eventually set out on the first of his African collecting expeditions, sending thousands of bird skins and other materials to Holland for sorting and examination. His first journey, north and east, led him out along the edge of European settlement, the interface between pioneering Dutch planters and indigenous peoples, and there are accounts of the predictable conflicts over land and cattle and water and of plantations abandoned to sun and drought. Although LeVaillant is best known as an ornithologist and collector of new bird species, much of his account reads like an adventure story-- lions prowl around his camps, his tame ape Kees steals a ride on a dog s back, he kills an elephant and later enjoys surprisingly delicious baked elephant s foot. Never were there so many animals for a hunter to shoot at, if he only had enough powder. He finds much to admire about the native people he employs and those he encounters along the way. Several quite striking portraits of Hottentats and Caffres suggest LeVaillant found their confident manner appealing.
Levaillant made three journeys, one around Cape Town and Saldanha Bay (April to August 1781), one eastwards from the Cape (December 1781 to May 1783) and the third to the Orange River and into Great Namaqualand (June 1783 to c. May 1784).
An illustrative map of his travels was produced around 1790 for King Louis XVI. Measuring nine feet wide and six feet high, the map depicts his travels and the landscape. Sixty two pictures of fauna and flora were stuck onto the map.
On Levaillant's return to Europe in July 1984, he published Voyage dans l'intérieur de l'Afrique (1790, 2 vols.), and Second voyage dans l'intérieur de l'Afrique (1796, 3 vols.), both of which were best sellers across Europe, translated into several languages.
His first work was first published in 2 volumes in England in 1790 by two different publishers: G. G. J. and J. Robinson, and William Lane. An illustration of a Hottentot woman in a naked state caused a bit of a scandle. See details below.
My copy of the Large French edition, 2 Volumes in 1, published in 1790
VOYAGE DE M. LE VAILLANT DANS L'INTERIEUR DE L'AFRIQUE PAR LE CAP DE BONNE-ESPERANCE DANS LES ANNEES 1780, 81, 82, 83, 84 & 85
The binding is not in the best condition, but the interior pages are not plagued by foxing, which is very nice!
The frontispiece and Volume 1 title-page, followed by the other plates
Travels into the Interior Parts of Africa
By Way of the Cape of Good Hope
in the Years 1780, 81, 82, 83, 84, and 85
G. G. J. and J. Robinon
The frontispiece for Volume 1 is the same as that found in the 1796 Second Edition (see image further below)
Travels from the Cape of Good-Hope
Into the Interior Parts of Africa
Including Many Interesting Anecdotes
The William Lane Volume 1 frontispiece differs from that of the Robinson frontispiece, and is titled : Dangerous Attack of a Tyger
I also found the image below in a copy on Archive.org, which suggests the William Lane 1790 edition was published April 10, 1790
Below: images contrasting the List of Plates for the Robinson versus the William Lane first editions, as well as the differing illustrations for the Female Hottentot / Hottentot Woman
Robinson List of Plates calls for 12
William Lane List of Plates calls for 12, but the giraffes are individual plates, making 13
The Robinson illustration has the Hottentot Woman naked, the why is discussed at length in the volume
The William Lane illustration has the Female Hottentot in a modest state
My copies of the second British edition, published in 1796
TRAVELS INTO THE INTERIOR PARTS OF AFRICA BY WAY OF THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE IN THE YEARS 1780, 81, 82, 83, 84 AND 85
The bindings are not in the best condition, but the interior pages are largely free of foxing, which is very nice!
Volume 2 has the "suppressed plate" (see at bottom of this webpage for more info)
New Travels into the Interior Parts of Africa
By Way of the Cape of Good Hope
in the Years 1783, 84, and 85
My copies of the first British edition
NEW TRAVELS INTO THE INTERIOR PARTS OF AFRICA BY WAY OF THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE IN THE YEARS 1783, 84, AND 85
The bindings are in nice condition, and the interior pages are largely free of foxing, which is very nice!
I bought some shabby volumes and had them rebound, thereby salvaging them for future use. There are a few facsimile map/plates added, but they look great now.
François Le Vaillant: Traveller in South Africa
and his collection of 165 water-colour paintings
The Library of Parliament published in 1973 a 2-volume work about LeVaillant, which was limited to 2500 copies, of which Numbers 1- 250 were bound in full blue calf, the rest bound in cloth. Two volumes (pp. xx, 172, plates; xiv, 181, bibliog., index, plates). Folio-size (31 cm) in navy blue cloth with gilt titles.
The text of Volume I comprises a biographical sketch of LeVaillant by Matthys Bokhorst, an account of LeVaillant's two journeys in southern Africa by Vernon Forbes, commentaries on Le Vaillant's representation of various indigenous groups culture, and an evaluation of LeVaillant as an ornithologist.
The text of Volume II focuses on LeVaillant's watercolours with commentary by Jurgens Meester, S. H. Scaife, and P. G. Jordaan. Bokhorst contributes remarks from the perspective of the history of art. The work includes an extensive bibliography with notes on Le Vaillant's African works by A. M. Lewin Robinson. The colour plates (about 30 cm x 20 cm), the principal feature of the work, include portraits of indigenous people as well as those of birds, giraffes, snakes, and flowering plants. They are supported by maps and other illustrations all produced to a high standard.