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|4. BEECHEY, F[rederick]
W[illiam] (1798-1856). Narrative of a Voyage
to the Pacific and Beering’s Strait, to Co-Operate with the Polar Expeditions:
Performed in His Majesty’s Ship Blossom, under the Command of Captain
F. W. Beechey...in the Years 1825, 26, 27, 28.... London: Henry Colburn
& Richard Bentley, 1831. xxi [1, errata] [2, directions to binder]
392 + vii [1, directions to binder] -742 pp., 3 copper-engraved
maps, including 2 large folding maps: Chart Shewing the Track of H.M.S.
Blossom and the Situation of Her Discoveries in 1825-26-27-28 (36.5
x 48 cm; 14-3/8 x 18-7/8 inches); and Chart of Part of the Northwest
Coast America from Point Rodney to Point Barrow by Captain F. W. Beechey
(44.6 x 33 cm; 17-5/8 x 13 inches), 23 plates (19 engraved, 4 lithographic),
errata slip bound in before page v of second volume, without publisher’s
one-leaf ad at end of vol. 2 (not mentioned by most bibliographers).
2 vols., 4to, contemporary smooth tan calf (neatly rebacked in sympathetic
tan morocco, original gilt-lettered green calf spine labels preserved),
spines with raised bands, marbled endpapers. Binding shelf-worn and with
some abrasions (a few separations of calf at edges), corners bumped,
intermittent mild to heavy foxing, offsetting, and staining. Two armorial
bookplates (foxed): Thomas Philip, Earl de Grey, Wrest Park, and William
M. Fitzhugh Jr. Small navy blue printed book label of San Francisco bookseller
Newbegin’s on rear pastedowns. Old typewritten note, probably from Newbegin’s,
laid in: “An additional indication of early issue is that this copy probably
was issued before the half-page supplementary errata slip was tipped in.”
First edition, the preferred quarto edition, with scientific appendix that did not appear in the subsequent octavo edition of the same year; engraved plates dated 1830. The Zamorano 80 bibliography does not mention the present edition. Cowan I, pp. 14-15. Cowan II, p. 42n. Ferguson, Australia 1418. Forbes, Hawaiian National Bibliography 1196. Hill, p. 19 (also describing a one-vol. quarto issue of 1831 with all prelims at beginning). Holliday 60. Howell 50, California 16: “Beechey’s account includes details on the Bounty mutiny taken from the narrative of John Adams, the last surviving mutineer on Pitcairn Island.... Beechey’s party was commissioned to rendezvous with Captain Franklin, who was proceeding westward along the northern coast of Canada in an attempt to find the Northwest Passage. The two groups came within 150 miles of one another, almost completing the survey of the coastline.” Howes B309. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 4. Lada-Mocarski 95: “In the same year, 1831, there appeared an octavo edition, with the same imprint. The...quarto edition is much to be preferred, as the octavo edition does not contain all the scientific papers.... Furthermore, the plates, which are dated 1831 (as against the quarto edition), are not uniformly of the same high quality.... Much of importance on Alaska.” Norris 242 (8vo edition). Sabin 4347. Streeter Sale 3517. Van Nostrand & Coulter, California Pictorial, pp. 22-27n. Zamorano 80 #4 (Robert J. Woods): “[Beechey] gives a description of San Francisco harbor and tells of the sad state of affairs of both mission and presidio. He claimed that the soldiers and clergy were dissatisfied with conditions in California (the pay of the garrison was many years in arrears). He described the treatment of mission Indians and the hunting of the wild ones, the latter’s mode of life as taken from the journals of Spanish officers.” The excellent plates are after the original artwork of Richard Brydges Beechey and William Smyth. “The art works of Captain Beechey’s two artists are the first [California] expeditionary paintings to possess aesthetic as well as documentary value” (Van Nostrand, The First Hundred Years of Painting in California, p. 10).
It was during this expedition that Beechey created early and most influential charts of the harbor of San Francisco. Harlow (Maps of San Francisco Bay 19) discusses and illustrates Beechey’s original manuscript map: “Beechey had been instructed before undertaking the expedition to make careful surveys in the Pacific where such had not been previously completed, and his men were constantly engaged in this business at San Francisco during the 1826 visit. Under Beechey’s direction they examined in two months’ time the portions of the harbor which he felt were most likely to be frequented by vessels for years to come.... Following the publication of the Beechey chart in 1833, it became the authoritative guide to the bay and remained so until well into the American period.... It became the source of a long line of copies and adaptations.” Beechey’s chart does not appear in the present work (although information on its creation is found in the book). Beechey’s manuscript map was copied and published (in whole or part) by the British Hydrographical Office (Chart No. 591, 1833; Harlow 20, 21), Richardson (The Geology of Beechey’s Voyage, 1839; Harlow 22), Forbes (q.v.; Harlow 23), Duflot de Mofras (q.v.; Harlow 28, 29), Wilkes (1858; Harlow 24, 25), Tebien’kov (Atlas, 1852), an unidentified Russian atlas in the Bancroft Library (probably issued before 1853), Ringgold (A Series of Charts and Sailing Directions, 1851), Imray (Chart of the Coast of California, 1851), British Hydrographical Office (1851, a reprint of the 1833 issue with additions). Harlow comments: “The Beechey influence upon San Francisco Bay charts persisted for many years.” (2 vols.) ($3,000-6,000)
|4A. BEECHEY, F[rederick]
W[illiam]. An Account of a Visit to California 1826-’27: Reprinted from
a Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering’s Strait Performed in
His Majesty’s Ship Blossom.... [San Francisco: Printed at the Grabhorn
Press for the Book Club of California, 1941].  74  pp., decorated
title, text ornamentation, 4 colored plates (from Smyth’s original watercolor
drawings), map. Small folio, original vellum over red cloth. Some mild
staining to binding, otherwise very fine, with original prospectus laid
Limited edition (350 copies), with introduction by Edith M Coulter and additional previously unpublished text, plus the reproductions of Smyth’s wonderful watercolors (only one of which was used in the original edition) and Beechey’s previously unpublished map of San Francisco Bay. Grabhorn (1940-1956) #354. ($100-300)
Mexican independence in 1821 and establishment of the Mexican Republic
in 1824 found the new state devastated from a decade of warfare and economic
neglect, and separated from the benefits of colonial commerce and communication.
The withdrawal of Spain from the Pacific Coast had left the Naval Department
of San Blas without officers and ships, and thereby, maritime supply
and communication to the Californias ceased. To rebuild, Mexico looked
to European powers, particularly England and France, for loans, and these
were forthcoming, but at a high price. To encourage economic investment
and aid, Mexico opened the country to the free entry of foreigners for
the first time since 1521.
——W. Michael Mathes
Item 4. Map showing the route of Beechey’s voyage.
Item 4. Richard Smyth’s celebrated and oft-reprinted image of “Californians Throwing the Lasso”—”The art works of Captain Beechey’s two artists are the first [California] expeditionary paintings to possess aesthetic as well as documentary value” (Jeanne Van Nostrand).