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Lot 73

73. SKELTON, R[aleigh] A[shlin] (editor). James Cook, Surveyor of Newfoundland: Being a Collection of Charts of the Coast of Newfoundland and Labradore, & Drawn from Original Surveys Taken by James Cook and Michael Lane. London, Thomas Jefferys, 1769-1770.... San Francisco: [text printed at Grabhorn Press, and charts printed at Meriden Gravure for] David Magee, 1965. <32> [2] pp., printed in red and black + 11 leaves of plates (10 fascimile charts, 6 of which are folding + facsimile title page) in portfolio. 2 vols., folio, original blue wrappers. Laid in publisher’s grey cloth box with gilt-lettered black leather spine label. Spine of portfolio slightly darkened, as usual, due to contact with cloth inside case, otherwise very fine.

     Limited edition (365 sets). Beddie 1946. Grabhorn Press 649. Hill I, pp. 63-64. Hill II:370. The original charts from which the facsimiles were made are in the University of California at Los Angeles. This survey of Newfoundland was Cook’s first substantial naval assignment and his first command of an expedition. Cook’s early experiences in the area were during the French and Indian War, when he was present at the reduction of Louisbourg. The area at the time was much disputed between France and England, and the knowledge of it that Cook gained during the surveys was highly important to his country as relations between the two countries remained strained following the French and Indian War. Treaty provisions gave France continued access to part of the area, but geographical knowledge was woefully inadequate, a situation Cook was sent to remedy.

     Although understandably eclipsed by his later voyages, Beaglehole says of Cook’s work here: “Cook was to carry out many accomplished pieces of surveying, in one part of the world or another, but nothing he ever did later exceeded in accomplishment his surveys of the southern and western sides of Newfoundland from 1763-1767” (Vol. V, p. 69). As Bernard de Voto remarks, because of this survey, when Cook finally surveyed the western American coast, he became the first man in history to know how wide North America really is (Course of Empire). For a detailed discussion of the contemporary publications of Cook’s North American surveys and of their importance, see R. A. Skelton & R. V. Tooley, “The Marine Surveys of James Cook in North America, 1758-1768,” in R. V. Tooley, The Mapping of America (London: Holland, 1980), pp. [173]-206. ($400-800)

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