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Lot 60

The Giants of Patagonia

60. [CLERKE, Charles (attributed)]. A Voyage Round the World in His Majesty’s Ship the Dolphin, Commanded by the Honourable Commodore Byron. In Which is Contained, a Faithful Account of the Several Places, People, Plants, Animals, &c. Seen on the Voyage: And, among Other Particulars, a Minute and Exact Description of the Streights of Magellan, and of the Gigantic People Called Patagonians. Together with an Accurate Account of Seven Islands Lately Discovered in the South Seas. By an Officer on Board the Said Ship. London: J. Newbery & F. Newbery, 1767. [4], 186, [2] pp., 3 copper-engraved plates (scenes). 8vo, contemporary speckled calf (skillfully rebacked with new sympathetic spine and brown morocco label, original marbled endpapers preserved), raised bands. Title page, frontispiece, and last few leaves darkened and lightly foxed, otherwise very good. Contemporary ink signature of D. T. Kelly, 1793, on blank verso of frontispiece.

     First edition. Borba de Moraes I, p. 138. Field 225. Hill I, p. 310. Hill II:311 (attributed to Charles Clerke). JCB III:1564 (attributed to Byron). Kroepelien 152. National Maritime Museum: Voyages 129: “This first account of the voyage was published one year before the official journal.” O’Reilly-Reitman 241. Palau 38226 (citing second edition). Sabin 9732.

     An account of the voyage of the Dolphin which left Plymouth in July, 1764, with the secret purpose of making discoveries in the South Seas. The voyage was relatively uneventful but only partially successful in its primary objective. The Dolphin (the first Royal Naval vessel to be sheathed in copper) returned to England in May, 1766. This voyage is probably more notable for the fact that almost nothing new was discovered apparently because of Byron’s determination just to get the whole thing behind him. Byron’s circumnavigation in a mere 22 months was a record at the time. Although sometimes ascribed to Commodore Byron himself, the narrator seems to be a third party who assumes a mantle of anonymity that Byron would probably find unnecessary if he were the author. Gallagher, Byron’s Journal (Cambridge, 1964; Hakluyt Society, 2nd series, #122), states that the work was “obviously the work of a Grub Street hack who referred to himself in the text as the 'editor'” and based on a journal not turned in to the Admiralty (pp. lxxxiv-lxxv). The work is best known for its description of the Patagonian giants, who are shown in the frontispiece and in one of the plates. The text also reflects the English desire for keeping the discoveries secret; in certain places in the text the actual positions of the islands are left blank.

     Clerke (1741-1779) later sailed with Cook on all three voyages, thus becoming one of the few people of his era to circumnavigate the globe three times. After Cook’s death, he became commander of the entire expedition but died on the voyage. ($750-1,500)

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