DE LESSEPS, FERDINAND. (1805-1894). French diplomat and developer of the Suez Canal. SP. (“Ferd. De Lesseps”). 1p. CDV. N.p., N.d. A sepia bust photograph by French photographer Charles Reutlinger, signed just beneath the image.
De Lesseps was a consular official in Egypt from 1832-1836, and it was there that he first grew interested in building a canal through the Isthmus of Suez, an idea that dates to ancient Egypt and a project which would occupy him for more than thirty years. With the assistance of the Viceroy of Egypt, Mohammed Said, agreements were signed in the 1850s and work, at first slow and using Egyptian forced labor, began in April 1859. Final approval by the Ottoman Sultan, who in fact ruled Egypt, did not come until 1866. On November 17, 1869, in the presence of Empress Eugenie of France, and with great fanfare, the Suez Canal opened to the world. At completion, its cost exceeded 420,000,000 francs, and was hailed the greatest engineering achievement of its time.
Lightly foxed with normal wear. In fine condition and uncommon.