MEARES, John (1756?-1809). Voyages made in the Years 1788 and 1789, from China to the North West Coast of America. To which are prefixed ... A voyage performed in 1786, from Bengal, in the ship Nootka; observations on the probable existence of a North West Passage and some account of the trade between the north west coast of America and China. London: Logographic Press, sold by J. Walter, 1790.
4° (292 x 225mm). Engraved portrait after W. Beechey, 10 engraved maps, 3 folding, and 17 stipple or aquatint plates, 7 folding or double-page, after Meares, T.S. Parry, T. Stothard, and C. Metz. (Frontispiece shaved at outer margin, first map partially browned, cleanly torn and creased, some browning and spotting to other maps and plates, offsetting to text, segment torn from margin of one folding plate, outer margin of X1-2 repaired.) Contemporary russia, gilt floret border, flat gilt spine with morocco labels, marbled endpapers (cracks and chips to spine, joints and corners rubbed). Provenance: Francis Ferrand Foljambe (stamp on title).
FIRST EDITION. When a consortium of English trading ships was seized by the Spanish in Nootka Sound in May 1789, it caused Meares to leave China and personally seek redress from the British government. The political storm he aroused also created a wide readership for his Voyages. Relating his exploration of the north-west coast, the book is 'an important link in the chain of American discovery, of which he was one of the pioneers. The English claim to Oregon depended mainly on his discoveries, and the seizure of his ships by the Spaniards, led to the convention by which the Spanish claims to any Northern territory were finally disallowed' (Sabin). Apart from the interest of the voyages themselves, it 'gives a very full account of the Indian nations of Northwest America, describing their villages, languages, manners, and customs' (Hill). The second edition of 1791 was followed by many foreign translations. Abbey Travel II 594; Cordier 2103; Hill 1126; Howes M-469; Howgego M-86; Sabin 47260.