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Lot 25

The Most Important Voyage for a Collection of Americana

25. [COOK’S THIRD VOYAGE]. COOK, James & James King. A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Undertaken, by the Command of His Majesty, for Making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. Performed under the Direction of Captains Cook, Clerke, and Gore, in His Majesty’s Ships the Resolution and Discovery; in the Years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780....Published by Order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. Second Edition. London: H. Hughs for G. Nicol and T. Cadell, 1785. 4 vols., as follows:


Vol. I: [10], xcvi, 421 [1, blank] pp., 7 copper-engraved plates (4 folding maps, 1 folding profile, 2 maps).

Vol. II: [12], 548 pp., 11 copper-engraved plates (2 folding maps, 5 maps, 4 folding profiles).

Vol. III: [14], 556 pp., 1 letterpress folding plan, 6 copper-engraved plates (1 folding map, 1 folding profile, 4 maps).

Atlas: 2 folding copper-engraved engraved charts and 61 copper-engraved plates.

Total plate count: 87 engraved maps & plates (24 in text; 63 in atlas).

Text vols.: 3 vols., 4to, modern three-quarter calf over marbled boards, spine with green gilt-lettered morocco spine labels and raised bands, edges marbled.

Atlas: Folio, contemporary three-quarter brown sheep over marbled boards, spine gilt decorated and lettered.

Text vols.: Spines sun faded and spotted. Mild marginal browning from binding offset to titles, mild to moderate offsetting from plates, light scattered foxing and browning, clean tear at Vol. II, p. 323 barely into text (no loss), map in Vol. II (p. 466) trimmed at top barely into neat line. Atlas vol. moderately rubbed, corners bumped (heavily), both hinges open (but holding strong). Plates are lightly to moderately foxed. A few plates at front with light waterstaining to blank margins, not affecting images. The large, general chart is pristine, and the second chart is very good (upper right-hand corner wrinkled, chipped, and with mild dust soiling). Late nineteenth- or early twentieth-century signature in pencil of J. C. Bigelow on front flyleaf. Lacks Death of Cook plate, as is often the case, but is considered complete without it.

     Second edition of the third voyage, revised and enlarged (first edition, London, 1784). Beaglehole III, pp. cxcviii-cciv (“an edition much better printed than the first”). Beddie 1543 & 1552. Cox I:63. Forbes, Hawaiian National Bibliography 85 (“typographically superior to the first edition”). Cf. Hill I, p. 61. Hill II:361. Hocken, pp. 23-24. Howes C729a. Cf. Lada-Mocarski 37. National Maritime Museum: Voyages 587 (plates of atlas bound with text). O’Reilly-Reitman 434. Cf. Pilling 871 (vocabularies of Nootka, Prince Williams Land, Oonalashka, Norton Sound, Greenland, Esquimaux). Printing and the Mind of Man 223n. Sabin 16250. Skelton, Explorers’ Maps, pp. 233-45. Strathern 126(ii). Cf. Streeter Sale 3478. Wickersham 6557.

     Wagner (Cartography of the Northwest Coast) sets out the following maps: No. 696 (Harmer’s Chart of the N.W. Coast of America, in atlas); No. 697 (Harmer, Sketch of the Harbour of Samganooda on the Island of Oonalaska; text Vol. II, p. 424); No. 698 (Sketch of Nootka Sound; text Vol. II, p. 279); No. 699 (Roberts, A General Chart Exhibiting the Discoveries Made by Captn James Cook...; Atlas), all apparently printed basically from the same copperplates as were used for the 1784 edition. On Thomas Harmer (or Harmar) and Henry Roberts, see Tooley (2001 revised edition). “The broad outlines of the task of mapping the Pacific were completed when Cook had explored the coasts of Australia and New Zealand, disproved the existence of the Terra Australis, discovered or rediscovered the Hawaiian Islands and numerous other groups, verified the existence of a strait between Australia and New Guinea, and passed through Bering Strait from the Pacific to the Arctic.... [The General Chart is] one of the most important of all maps” (Wroth, “Early Cartography of the Pacific”).

      This is the text of the official account, here in the second edition, which followed rapidly on the heels of the first, which sold out in just a matter of days. Cook's third voyage was probably the most significant of his three voyages, and certainly the most important for a collection of Americana. Intending to seek the Northwest Passage and return Omai to his home, Cook sailed with his ships, Resolution and Discovery, up the northwest coast of the American continent until his way was blocked by pack ice, thereby casting even more doubt on the Passage’s existence. He made numerous discoveries such as Christmas Island and the Sandwich Islands, the original name Cook gave the Hawaiian group, which he considered his most significant discovery. This voyage was the one that finally gave Europe and the rest of the world a true idea of the entirety of the Pacific Ocean and led to the discovery of Hawaii.

     Among the many fine plates are Natives, views, and artifacts of the Northwest coast and the Hawaiian Islands by artist John Webber (see Item 26 herein). The plates were engraved by Newton, Pouncey, Taylor, Scott, Middiman, Bartolozzi, and others. Three medallion title vignettes were executed for this edition by L. Hogg, consisting of two views of the Cook medallion and one of James King. Reese & Miles, Creating America 50 (discussing and illustrating the Sea Horses plate): “European contact often had a devastating effect on wildlife populations.... Webber’s engraving of a party from Captain James Cook’s third voyage firing rifles into a herd of walruses on the shores of the Bering Straits provides a haunting image of destruction. Poised on the shore of an unknown continent, the sailors blaze away at the strange beasts encountered there. The walruses, whose deaths will not benefit their killers in any way, stare back with skull-like faces, doomed before the European advance.” (4 vols.) ($7,500-15,000) 

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