The Travels of Capts. Lewis & Clarke
The Travels of Capts. Lewis & Clarke

HUBBARD LESTER, 1809

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The Travels of Capts. Lewis & Clarke
Hubbard Lester, 1809
The Travels of Capts. Lewis & Clarke, by order of the Government of the United States, performed in the Years 1804, 1805, & 1806.... Philadelphia: Hubbard Lester, 1809.

Alexander Mackenzie's copy of the "apocrypha" edition of Lewis and Clark, first edition. This work fabricated, in part, from Mackenzie's own Voyages, published in 1801. Lewis and Clark returned from their expedition in September of 1806 and by 1809, public impatience for news had reached a limit not to be ignored by entrepeneurs. "The dearth of information on the adventures of the Corps of Discovery spawned a remarkable literature: the creation of seemingly authentic, but not quite honest, accounts ... [these works] all contained elements of accuracy, but their compilers pillaged and pasted." Of this genre of surreptitious or apocryphal narratives, this "Hubbard Lester" edition (the publisher's name is probably a pseudonym) was the first.

Alexander Mackenzie, of course, was the first documented explorer to traverse the full North American continent, preceding Lewis & Clark's more famous Corps of Discovery by a full 12 years. He published the journals of his 1792-1793 Peace River Expedition in 1801 (see lot 74). He was knighted in 1802 and served as a Legislative Councilor in Quebec. In 1812, he returned to his native Scotland, married the young heiress to Avoch House, and fathered three children. The present work is really a hodgepodge of Clark's letter from Fort Mandan, Jefferson's "Message from the President," the work of Jonathan Carver, Patrick Gass's journal, and Mackenzie's own Voyages. That a first edition, American copy was acquired by Alexander Mackenzie and survives today is simply extraordinary; it links the names of most famous explorers of Canadian and American history. Howes L-321, Lewis & Clark 4a.1; Sabin 40827; Streeter sale 3122.

12mo (186 x 112mm). Frontispiece folding map, "Map of the Country Inhabited by the Western Tribes of Indians," 257 x 229 mm (one fold split), engraved frontispiece of a "Sioux Queen," and 4 other engraved plates (map with one fold split, a couple of closed marginal tears, marginal tear from B6 with loss of several letters, H4 with large tear from corner affecting text). Contemporary sheep (rubbed, spine dry and cracked, lettering piece lacking). Custom chemise and quarter morocco slipcase. Provenance: Alexander Mackenzie, the explorer, 1764-1820 (ownership signature to front free endpaper) – by descent to, [presumably Alexander George] Mackenzie, eldest son of Alexander Mackenzie, 1818-1894 (pencil ownership signatures to front endpapers, "Mr Mackenzie Esq," name of Avoch House written on front inside cover, pencil note on p. 36 identifying the anonymous "Western Traveler" as Alexander Mackenzie).

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