• The Wolfgang A. Herz Library:  auction at Christies

    Sale 2158

    The Wolfgang A. Herz Library: Important Voyages and Travels

    9 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 340

    ROSS, John (1777-1856). A Voyage of Discovery, Made Under the Orders of the Admiralty, in His Majesty's Ships Isabella and Alexander, for the Purpose of Exploring Baffin's Bay and Inquiring into the Probability of a North-West Passage. London: John Murray, 1819.

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    ROSS, John (1777-1856). A Voyage of Discovery, Made Under the Orders of the Admiralty, in His Majesty's Ships Isabella and Alexander, for the Purpose of Exploring Baffin's Bay and Inquiring into the Probability of a North-West Passage. London: John Murray, 1819.

    4o (287 x 225 mm). 7 maps and charts (6 folding), and 25 aquatint or engraved plates and coastal profiles (15 colored and 7 folding). (Lacks errata slip, some light offsetting and marginal staining.) (Some occasional pale browning at edges.) Contemporary boards (rebacked with red morocco).

    FIRST EDITON OF ROSS'S FAMOUS FIRST VOYAGE. Ross, along with William Parry, his nephew James Clark Ross, and Edward Sabine (who would all become famous explorers in their own right) attempted on their journey to proceed westward through Lancaster Sound. Deceived, quite possibly by a mirage, Ross described the passage as barred by a mountain range that he named the Croker Mountains. He then returned to England, losing his only possibility of penetrating the Northwest passage. His observations were initially accepted as conclusive, and he was promoted to post rank on 7 December 1818. Controversy would soon follow, as Sir John Barrow, furious that the attempt to find the open polar sea had failed, vented his anger in person to Ross, and the Admiralty, having learned that there were some doubts as to the existence of the Croker Mountains, dispatched another expedition under the command of Parry. Edward Sabine, in his account of the voyage, claimed that Ross was the only person to have seen the Croker Mountains and that he had misrepresented some scientific results of the voyage. Parry's return in 1820 brought further proof that Ross's assertions had been incorrect, and, despite his willingness to make another voyage, Ross was not given another opportunity to lead an Arctic expedition until 1829. Abbey Travel 634; Arctic Bibliography 14873; Hill 1488; NMM 818; Sabin 73376; Staton & Tremaine/TPL 1152.


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