MEARES, John (ca 1756-1809). Voyages made in the years 1788 and 1789, from China to the North West coast of America. To which are prefixed, an introductory narrative of 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; and the latter country and Great Britain. London: Logographic Press, sold by J. Walter, 1790.
4o (288 x 230 mm). 5pp. subscribers' list, 28 engraved plates, coastal profiles and maps (10 folding), after T. Stothard, J. Wells and others (a few tears along folds, some light offsetting and staining). Contemporary calf, spine elaborately gilt (hinge of upper cover weak).
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TEXTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE CLAIM TO OREGON
FIRST EDITION OF THIS IMPORTANT WORK: "Meare's voyages resulted in the Nootka Sound affair between Britain and Spain, and were the foundation of Britain's claim to Oregon, later ceded to the United States" (Abbey).
"John Meares was sent out in 1786 from Calcutta, by a group of merchants, to enter into the fur trade of the northwest coast of America. Establishing himself at Nootka Sound and flying the British flag, he built the first vessel to be launched in northern waters, made important discoveries, and explored the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The discoveries by Meares were part of the basis for the claim of Great Britain to Oregon. Competition with the Spanish almost caused war between the two countries and this struggle became known as the Nootka Controversy. The Spanish seizure of his ships led to the convention by which the Spanish claims to any northern territory were finally disallowed. This important narrative gives a very full account of the Indian nations of Northwest America, describing their villages, languages, manners, and customs. It also contains a separate account of the voyage of the Iphegenia, commanded by Captain William Douglas, which visited the Sandwich Islands and Nootka Sound" (Hill).
Various bibliographies call for differing numbers of plates. The present copy conforms to the Frank S. Streeter copy with 28 plates and the majority of those recorded at auction in American Book Prices Current. Abbey Travel 594; Cordier Sinica 2103; Hill 1126; Howes M-468; Sabin 47260 (26 plates); Smith 6690 (26 plates); Staton & Tremaine/TPL 612 (33 plates); Wagner Northwest Coast 758, 758a, 759-766.