Jean-Baptiste's 'master book on China' could bring $32,925 in Paris sale

The "master book on China up until the 18th century" compiled by Jean-Baptiste Du Halde (1674-1743) could bring €25,000 ($32,925) in an auction in Paris tonight (March 7).

The French Jesuit historian Du Halde specialised in China. Although he never went to the People's Republic himself, he compiled Jesuit missionaries' reports on the country. Du Halde was effectively an intermediary between Beijing and the French public from 1711-1743.

This encyclopedic compilation on Chinese history, culture and society was the fruit of his works. Its contents bring together half a century of research into the Middle Kingdom.


The rare historic book's pages include general and scientific maps, special cards from Tibet and Korea and a number of fascinating figures and vignettes.

As the lot notes point out, this definitive book did much to influence people's attitudes towards China. Especially Enlightenment thinkers, who drew validation from China's Confucian ethics and model of rational morality without religion.

Du Halde's "master book" remains a master find for collectors and is also, we suspect, undervalued at $25,000. All will be revealed in tonight's auction.

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