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PORTLOCK, Nathaniel.

A Voyage Round the World;

but more particularly to the North-West Coast of America: performed in 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788, in the King George and Queen Charlotte, Captains Portlock and Dixon.

Published: London: John Stockdale and George Goulding, 1789

Stock code: 65632

Price: £4,500

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition of Portlock’s interesting circumnavigation, the principal, and successful, object of which was the opening of the fur trade in northwest America. Expedition leader Portlock sailed with Captain Dixon as co-commander; their two ships sailed part of the way independently. Though often confused, the published accounts of the two captains are also independent of each other: “the present account is also important for the supplementary details added to the geographical explorations of Captain Cook. Portlock’s vivid encounters with the American Indians and the Russians serve to broaden the perspective provided by the William Beresford/George Dixon account” (Hill). Portlock appends some native vocabularies to his account of the American Indians. Portlock also discovered Portlock’s Harbour, visited Hawaii three times, gave a good account of the Bengal vessel of Captain John Meares, and sailed home by way of Macao and St Helena. Two years later he served as commander of the second vessel of the second breadfruit voyage of Captain Bligh.

Quarto (284 222 mm). Contemporary calf-backed sprinkled boards, leather tips, red morocco label. With engraved portrait frontispiece of Portlock by Mazell after Dodd, large folding map of northwest America, 5 folding charts, 5 plates of birds, 5 plates of views, 2 plates of artefacts from the Sandwich Islands, portrait of Tyaana (an Atoui chieftain). Large folding map torn at folds (without loss), some foxing, some offsetting from plates to text, one or two repairs to paper. Armorial bookplate of Charles de Constant Rebecque to the front pastedown. An excellent provenance: cousin of the political philosopher Benjamin Constant, Rebecque was known as the “le Chinois” because of his extensive travels in the Far East. After a successful mercantile career he became a member of the Representative Council of Geneva, later settling in London. Just a little rubbed on the boards, lightly toned, some off-set from the plates, but overall a very good, clean copy.

Bibliography: Hill 1376; Howgego P141; NMM catalogue, Voyages & Travel, 141; Sabin 64389.

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