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AUCTION 22

 

One of the Rarest Accounts of Captain Cook’s Third Voyage


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489.     [RICKMAN, John]. An Authentic Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific Ocean: Performed by Captain Cook, and Captain Clerke, in His Britannic Majesty’s Ships, the Resolution, and Discovery, in the Years, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780. Including, a Faithful Account of All Their Discoveries in this Last Voyage, the Unfortunate Death of Captain Cook, at the Island of O-why-ee, and the Return of the Ships to England under Captain Gore. Also a Large Introduction, Exhibiting, an Account of the Several Voyages Round the Globe; with an Abstract of the Principal Expeditions to Hudson’s Bay, for the Discovery of a North-West-Passage. By an Officer on Board the Discovery. Volume the First [and Volume the Second]. Philadelphia: Printed and Sold by Robert Bell, in Third-Street, Price two thirds of a dollar, 1783. [2], [9] 10-96, 99-112 + [113-115] 116-229 [1], [2, ads] pp. (complete). 2 vols. in one, 8vo (20 x 13.5 cm), contemporary sheep, raised bands, expertly re-backed with sympathetic calf, original maroon gilt-lettered morocco spine label retained. Binding rubbed, first few leaves lightly stained and with minor paper losses professionally restored at blank corners (not into text), occasional minor chipping to blank margins and light browning, last two leaves slightly waterstained and professionally strengthened, but overall a very good copy of an exceedingly rare Cook title.

     First American edition of Rickman’s account of Cook’s third voyage, first published in London, 1781. Davidson, p. 64 (listing it as one of the “five other items” in addition to the official account that collectors should seek). Eberstadt 132:242. Evans 17921 (incorrectly attributed to William Ellis). Forbes, Hawaiian National Bibliography 54 (illustrated at p. 47): “Very rare.” Graff 3501 (erroneously states: “This Philadelphia edition of Rickman is the first American book dealing with the West Coast explorations, and with Cook’s third and last voyage”). Hildeburn, Pennsylvania 4294. Holmes 38n. Howes R276. O’Reilly-Reitman 430 (listed under Ellis). Sabin 16244. Shipton & Mooney II, p. 740 (attributed to Rickman and citing copy at AAS). Strathern 468(iv). Wickersham 6555 (attributing to Ellis). Unrecorded by Beddie, Hocken, JCB, Lada-Mocarski, et al.

     This is the second account of a voyage to the American West Coast to be published in the United States, the first being John Ledyard’s narrative published at Hartford earlier the same year. As Forbes points out, this edition is sometimes stated to be the first account of such a voyage published in the United States. But Ledyard’s account was published in June-July of 1783, whereas according to the statement at the foot of p. 112, the first volume of this work appeared on October 6th of that year. British Columbian historian Frederic Howay clarified the matter in 1921 with his contribution to the Washington Historical Quarterly, “Authorship of Anonymous Account of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage.”

     One crucial aspect of the third voyage surrounded Rickman with controversy; he may have helped cause the confrontation with natives that led to Cook’s death, indirectly contributing to the tragedy. Rickman has had his contemporary and modern detractors and supporters in the matter. On the whole, however, Rickman’s account has been discounted as “a fanciful and ridiculously exaggerated production, done exclusively for the market” (Beaglehole III, p. ccv).

($7,500-15,000)

Sold. Hammer: $7,500.00; Price Realized: $9,000.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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