WILKES, Charles (1798-1877). Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842. Philadelphia: C. Sherman for Lea & Blanchard, 1845. 5 volumes and map case, 8°. 63 plates and 47 steel-engraved vignettes, 11 engraved maps, numerous woodcuts, half titles; map case with title, contents leaf and 5 folding maps, one hand-coloured (one map repaired at fold). Original black cloth gilt, boards with borders blocked in blind enclosing central gilt block, spines lettered in gilt, yellow endpapers (hinges strengthened, spines re-laid). Provenance: John Rashleigh Rodd, R.N., Valparaiso, 15 January 1845 (presentation inscription on vol. I front free endpaper, recording gift from Mr and Mrs Armstrong, further inscription in Rodd's hand: '1st Lieut., H.M.S. Fisgard, Pacific') -- United Services Club, 7 February 1896 (bookplates with manuscript note recording Mrs Rashleigh Rodd presentation of the set).
SCARCE FIRST TRADE EDITION LIMITED TO ONE THOUSAND SETS of the first official American scientific expedition by sea, approved by Congress in 1836. Only through Wilkes' efforts, however, did it finally sail in 1838 with five poorly equipped ships, 83 officers and 342 men. It ranks as one the great voyages to the Southern Ocean, alongside those of Dumont d'Urville and James Clark Ross. Once around Cape Horn, Wilkes surveyed 1,600 miles of South American coastline, discovered the Shackleton Ice Shelf and Wilkes Land in present-day Australian Antarctic Territory, claimed to be the first to use the term 'Antarctic Continent', and his ship's tender, the Peacock made a remarkable southerly latitude of 700. His survey of Pacific islands resulted in over 200 new charts for 280 islands, most notably in Hawaii, the Tuamotus, Fiji, the Philippines and in Micronesia, only a few of which were later proved inaccurate as he had had the use of Krusenstern's own Pacific charts of 1806. The N.W. American coast was as fully charted from California to Puget Sound while a separate party blazed a new trail overland from the Columbia River to San Francisco and completed the first map of this route. Returning to New York via the Cape of Good Hope, his Antarctic claims were challenged by Ross and Clements Markham, but still he received the Founders Medal of the RGS in 1845. John Rodd, the recipient and first owner of this set, was first lieutenant on HMS Fisgard, which was stationed on the Pacific coast from 1844 to 1847; in that capacity, Rodd participated in the first survey of Esquimalt Harbour, BC in 1846 and Fort Rodd Hill is named in his honour. Hill 1867; Rosove 353.B1; Ferguson 4209; Hocken 125, Forbes 1574; Howes 414. (6) (6)