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A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and Round the World; In which the Coast of North-West America has been Carefully Examined and Accurately Surveyed,
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VANCOUVER, Captain George.

A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and Round the World; In which the Coast of North-West America has been Carefully Examined and Accurately Surveyed,

undertaken by His Majesty's Command, Principally with a View to Ascertain the Existence of any Navigable Communication between the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans; and Performed in the Years 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794 and 1795, in the Discovery Sloop of war and Armed Tender Chatham, under the Command of Captain George Vancouver. a New Edition, with Corrections ...

Published: London: John Stockdale, 1801

Stock code: 100520

Price: £5,950

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First octavo edition, first published in quarto in 1798. “This voyage became one of the most important ever made in the interests of geographical knowledge” (Hill). George Vancouver (1758-1798) had accompanied Cook in the Resolution on his second voyage, in the Discovery on his final voyage, and had seen naval warfare with Rodney in the West Indies in 1782. In 1790 it was decided to negotiate the return of Nootka Sound (Vancouver Island, British Columbia) from the Spanish and make an accurate survey of the coast northwards from the 30th degree of north latitude. “As the route was left to his own judgement, he followed Cook’s teaching and went westward, touching at the Cape of Good Hope, surveying the south-west coast of Australia, where he discovered and named King George’s Sound, Mount Gardner, Cape Hood, and other points in that neighbourhood. Then passing on to New Zealand, he examined the recesses of Dusky Bay, and where Cook had marked on the chart ‘Nobody knows what,’ he substituted a correct coastline and the name ‘Somebody knows what.’ He reached Tahiti on 30 Dec. 1791, and in the following year, after the necessary formalities at Nootka, he examined the strait of San Juan de Fuca, discovered the gulf of Georgia, and, passing on, circumnavigated the large island which has since borne his name. The two following years he continued his examination of the coast from San Francisco, northwards, which, for the first time he accurately delineated. In 1795 he returned to England, by Valparaíso, Cape Horn, and St. Helena” (DNB). Vancouver died before he could edit his narrative, which was prepared for the press by his brother John, and Capt. Peter Puget. He has perhaps been overshadowed by the hydrographic brilliance of Cook, but Hill reminds us that “the voyage was remarkable for the accuracy of its surveys, the charts of the coasts surveyed needing little improvement to the present day. When Charles Wilkes resurveyed Puget Sound in 1841, he was amazed at the accuracy Vancouver had achieved under such adverse conditions and despite his failing health. Well into the 1880s Vancouver’s charts of the Alaskan coast remained the accepted standard.” Near contemporary ownership inscriptions of “C. de Jersey” to the tile pages of volumes I, III, IV, and V, and similarly early inscriptions of “I. & A. Powell” to the front free endpapers of all but volume II.

6 volumes octavo (230 120 mm). Contemporary quarter sheep, marbled boards, the marbling applied on red-ruled ledger sheets, black morocco labels, edges sprinkled blue. 2 large folding maps and 17 folding engraved plates. A little rubbed, partoicularly on the boards, some browning and occasional foxing throughout, remains a very good set, and not unattractive.

Bibliography: NMM, I, 142; Hill 1754; Howes V23; Howgego I, V13; Sabin 98443

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