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Lot 58

First Official Edition—In a Handsome Contemporary Binding

58. [BLIGH, William]. A Voyage to the South Sea, Undertaken by Command of His Majesty, for the Purpose of Conveying the Bread-Fruit Tree to the West Indies, in His Majesty's Ship the Bounty.... Including an Account of the Mutiny...and the Subsequent Voyage of Part of the Crew, in the Ship's Boat, from Tofoa, one of the Friendly Islands, to Timor, a Dutch Settlement in East Indies. The Whole Illustrated with Charts, etc. Published by Permission of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. London: Printed for George Nicol, Bookseller to His Majesty, Pall-Mall, 1792. [10], 264 pp., 4 maps, 3 of which are folding: (1) Sketch from recollections and anchor-bearings of the North Part of Otaheite From Point Venus to Toawne Wm Bligh; (2) Chart of Bligh's IslandsDiscovered by Lt. William Bligh in the Bounty’s Launch a The Track of the Launch, with an inset of the northern part of New Hebrides; (3) N.E. Coast of New Holland by Willm. Bligh a Track of Lieut. Bligh in the Bounty’s Launch; (4) Track of the Bounty’s Launch from Tofoa to Timor by Lieut. William Bligh 1789 + 4 plates, 2 of which are folding: (1) Capt. Bligh, frontispiece oval portrait in stipple of Bligh by J. Condé after J. Russell; (2) Plan & Section of part of the Bounty Armed Transport, Shewing the manner of fitting and stowing the Potts, for receiving the Bread-fruit plants; (3) Sections of the Bread-Fruit; (4) A Copy of the Draught from which the Bounty’s Launch was built. Total: 8 leaves of copper-engraved maps and plates. 4to, contemporary three-quarter brown calf over blue marbled boards, spine gilt-lettered and decorated in gilt and blind, edges marbled (expertly rebacked, original spine preserved and skillfully laid down). Binding slightly rubbed with light shelf wear, offsetting of portrait onto title, scattered mild foxing, old quarter-size stain affecting blank margins of pages 93-102, breadfruit engraving trimmed close with some loss of title, overall a very good copy, with engraved armorial bookplate (Sir Robert Johnson Eden Bar). This book is increasingly difficult to find in contemporary binding. Preserved in blue cloth clamshell case with red leather label.

     First edition of the official and complete account, text revised from the original narrative (Item 57 herein) to include additional text and illustrations. Clement, Mutiny on the Bounty 3. Cox II, p. 305. Ferguson, Australian Bibliography 125. Hill II:135 ("An extremely important book"). Hunt 723. JCB III:3512. Kroepelien 93. National Maritime Museum: Voyages 624. O'Reilly-Reitman 550. Palau 30935. Ragatz, British Caribbean History, p. 280. Sabin 5910. Wantrup 62.

     A brief Narrative of the Mutiny had been published in 1790. James Burney and Sir Joseph Banks prepared this edition for publication from Bligh’s journal and saw the work through the press; at the time Bligh himself was on his second voyage seeking to transport breadfruit to the West Indies. At first intended only to narrate the voyage itself, it was nevertheless expanded to include yet another account of the mutiny. One great value of this edition is the extended discussions of breadfruit, which constituted a real contribution to the study of foodways at the time. Hunt remarks that the discussions and the plate showing the fruit “are of considerable botanical interest.” Bligh also reports the death of Omai and what is an early, if not the earliest, battle between natives in which firearms were used (pp. 91-92).

     This edition has additional plates and maps, including the important map of the northeast coast of New Holland (Australia), the plate illustrating breadfruit, and the excellent portrait of Bligh. The latter is from a painting by John Russell (1745-1806), artist in crayon and pastel, who also painted the royal family and contributed illustations for Thornton’s New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus von Linnaeus. Engraver Jean Condé (fl. 1785-1800) was noted for his engravings of portraits in stipple and aquatint. For a general discussion of Bligh’s account, see preceding entry. ($7,500-15,000)

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