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Lot 62

Russian Discoveries on the Northwest Coast of America

62. COXE, William. Account of the Russian Discoveries between Asia and America. To which Are Added, the Conquest of Siberia, and the History of the Transactions and Commerce between Russia and China.... The Second Edition, Revised and Corrected. London: Printed by J. Nichols for T. Cadell, 1780. xxiii [1, blank], 344, [14], [2] pp., 5 copper-engraved plates (folding maps, charts, and view). 4to, contemporary speckled calf, red morocco gilt-lettered spine label. Spine rubbed and faded with losses, joints starting, moderate shelf wear, corners bumped, endpapers and first few leaves with light marginal browning from binding offset, scattered light foxing, first map with three-inch tear (no losses). With printed bookplate of Fintray House Library on front pastedown. A very good copy.

     Second edition (first edition, London, 1780, from the same publishers). Cordier, Bibliotheca Sinica, col. 2447. Cf. Cox II, pp. 24-25. Howes C834. JBC III:2632. Cf. Lada-Mocarski 29. Cf. Pilling 916: “Specimen of the Aleutian Language (12 words, and numerals 1-10).” Sabin 17309. Strathern 130(i). Cf. Streeter Sale 3472. Wickersham 5882. Cf. Hill I, 71. Hill II:391 (who cites first and third editions).

     Coxe's work was based on oral and manuscript accounts gathered during his earlier sojourn in Russia, in which endeavor he had the full cooperation of Russian Empress Catherine II and of William Robertson, and on previously published narratives (many of them in German). It gives for the first time in English the major Russian discoveries and explorations in Northwest America and describes their attempts to open communications with Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. It was for many years the most comprehensive source of information on Russian early explorations in an area that was a maze of islands, as the maps make apparent.

     Included are accounts of the voyages of Michael Nevodsikoff in 1745 and the first discovery of the Aleutian Isles, and of Captain Krenitzin and Lieutenant Levasheff to the Fox Islands in 1768-69, the last first published by Coxe for the first time and based on the actual journals. Coxe also provides a discussion of the fur trade between the Russians and the Chinese since the latter buy almost all Russian furs. The engraved maps include a general map of Russia, one of Krenitzin and Levasheff's voyage, one of Synd's voyage, and one of Shalauroff's voyage. The plate shows a Chinese town in the area. Coxe (1747-1828) was a traveller and careful, detailed historian who wrote on a variety of topics. ($1,000-2,000)

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