1798 · London
by VANCOUVER, George (1757-1798)
London: G G & J Robinson and J Edwards, 1798. 4 volumes (including atlas vol. of plates and maps), quarto (10 7/8 x 8 3/4 inches) and folio (22 x 17 inches). Text: half-titles to vol.I and II, 3pp. errata at the end of vol.III. 1 engraved chart, 17 engraved plates (4 double-page), after J. Sykes. Atlas: mounted on guards throughout, 10 folding engraved charts, 6 engraved plates of coastal profiles (including 2 proofs before all letters, 2 scratch proofs with the names of the artist and engraver but no other lettering, 1 plate as published and 1 plate from the French edition of Vancouver's voyage,) extra-illustrated with 4 plates of coastal profiles, 'gravé par Michel' taken from the French edition. Expertly bound to style in 18th-century diced russia, the flat spines gilt in compartments divided by decorative rolls, red morocco lettering-piece in the second, dark green morocco label with onlaid red morocco circular disc bearing the volume number in the fourth (text vols.) or fifth (atlas vol.), the other compartments with repeat decoration of small tools Provenance: Robert Ballard Whitebrook (armorial bookplate) A unique set of "One of the most important [voyages] ever made in the interests of geographical knowledge" (Hill). A unique set from the library of Robert B. Whitebrook, author of the Coastal exploration of Washington (Palo Alto, Calif., 1959) [Tweney 82], whose M.A. thesis submitted to the University of Washington in 1963 was titled The Pacific Northwest maritime frontier, 1775-1825. The atlas volume in this set includes fascinating proof images of four of the six coastal profile plates which offer a real insight into the working methods of the highly talented engravers who worked on these valuable aids to navigation. The prime aim would, of course, have been to make them as accurate as possible - any mistakes and lives of subsequent visitors to the region would have been put at risk - but, almost by accident, the profiles are also very beautiful images. This beauty that can best be appreciated when the plates are without lettering as is the case with these proofs. Vancouver was put in command of the expedition on the recommendation of his old commanding officer Alan Gardner. He had served earlier with both Admiral Rodney and on James Cook's second and third voyages, so was well equipped in terms of experience, in addition he was a first class navigator. The voyage was mounted as a "grand-scale expedition to reclaim Britain's rights, resulting from the Nootka Convention, at Nootka Sound, to thoroughly examine the coast south of 60º in order to find a possible passage to the Atlantic; and to learn what establishments had been founded by other powers. This voyage became one of the most important ever made in the interests of geographical knowledge. Vancouver sailed by way of the Cape of Good Hope to Australia, where he discovered King George's Sound and Cape Hood, then to New Zealand, Hawaii, and the northwest coast of America. In three seasons' work Vancouver surveyed the coast of California; visited San Francisco and San Diego ... and other Spanish settlements in Alta California; settled the necessary formalities with the Spanish at Nootka; investigated the Strait of Juan de Fuca; discovered the Strait of Georgia; circumnavigated Vancouver Island; and disproved the existence of any passage between the Pacific and Hudson Bay" (Hill). Cowan p.654-5; Cox II,p.30; Ferguson 281; Forbes I,298; Graff 4456; Hill (2004) 1753; Howes V-23; Judd 178; Lada-Mocarski 55; O'Reilly & Reitman 635; Sabin 98443; Smith 10469; Streeter Sale 3497; Tremaine 688; Tweney 78; Wagner NWC p.209; Wantrup 63a; Wickersham 6601; Zamorano Eighty 77.
(Inventory #: 18455)