JAMES COOK (1728-1779)
A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, undertaken by the Command of His Majesty, for Making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. To determine the Position and Extent of the West Side of North America; its Distance from Asia; and the Practicality of a Northern Passage to Europe. Performed under the direction of Captains Cook, Clerke, and Gore, In His Majesty's Ships the Resolution and Discovery, In the years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780. London: W. and A. Strahan for G. Nicol and T. Cadell, 1784. 3 text volumes, 4° (290 x 235mm) and 2° Atlas (562 x 415mm). Text with 24 engraved plates, maps and charts, 12 folding, and folding table. (Last blank vol. II detached, 1 leaf torn at margin, upper corners clipped from 2 leaves.) Contemporary speckled calf, spines gilt in compartments, gilt morocco lettering-pieces in 2, others decorated with floral tools (a little rubbed and scuffed, hinges cracked, rebacked retaining original spines). Provenance: Calgarth Park, Westmorland (booklabels on pastedowns). Atlas with 61 engraved plates after Webber and 2 folding engraved maps. (Without the 'Death of Cook' plate -- not always included with the first edition -- outer margins of some plates fragile or soiled, a few lightly spotted.) Contemporary half calf over marbled boards (rebacked, edges and corners worn, hinges reinforced).
FIRST OFFICIAL EDITION OF COOK'S LAST VOYAGE, WITH THE ATLAS, published five years after his death and long after other accounts were published by men who had sailed with him on that voyage. All were unauthorized publications whose authors sought to relate the true circumstances of Cook's death in Hawaii: John Rickman and Heinrich Zimmermann in 1781, William Ellis in 1782, and John Ledyard in 1783. None of these men were true witnesses to Cook's death, but their accounts were translated and reprinted in England, Europe and America, and widely read. By 1784, when the first official account was completed for the press by Captain James King and published, it was already popular enough for the whole of the first edition to sell out in just three days. It is Cook's own accounts published in these quarto volumes, however, which are the cornerstone for any collection of Pacific voyages. As Hill notes, 'He did more to clarify the geographical knowledge of the southern hemisphere than all his predecessors together had done'. Beddie 1543; Hill 361; Lada-Mocarski 37; Cox I, p. 63. (4)