COLNETT, James (ca 1755-1806). A Voyage to the South Atlantic and round Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean, for the Purpose of Extending the Spermaceti Whale Fisheries, and other Objects of Commerce, by Ascertaining the Ports, Bays, Harbours, and Anchoring Births, in Certain Islands and Coasts in those Seas. London: Printed for the Author by W. Bennett, 1798.
4o (294 x 234 mm). Engraved portrait of the dedicatee Sir Philip Stephens, six engraved folding maps by A. Arrowsmith, 2 coastal profile plates, and plate of Spermaceti whale (three maps with tears crossing image repaired with cellotape, long tear on map of Galapagos, other short edgetears, but generally crisp and clean.) Late 19th/early 20th century green hardgrained morocco. Provenance: Thomas Dale, M.D. (near contemporary ownership signature on title); Edward Ayer, Newberry Library duplicate (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION. James Colnett had accompanied Captain Cook on his third voyage and frequently mentions his previous commander throughout this account of his own Pacific expeditions. His narrative, compiled by William Combe from Colnett's notes, records this historic opening of the South Pacific to sperm whale hunting. Colnett travelled from 1793-94 aboard the Rattler, sailing via Rio de Janiero around Cape Horn, along the west coasts of South America and Mexico and up the Gulf of California. He also made two visits to the Galapagos Islands. The maps show the Pacific Coast of the Americas as far as California, the Revillagigedo Islands, Cocos, the Galapagos, Felix and Ambrose and Quito. Also described here is the somewhat later voyage during which Colnett attempted to establish an English fur-trading post on Nootka. Here he and his crew were siezed by Spaniards, precipitating a controversy that almost resulted in war between England and Spain. This celebrated "Nootka Sound Controversy" is remembered as one of the most famous incidents in the history of the Northwest. Hill, p.58; Howes C-604; Sabin 14546.