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GILBERT, Thomas.

Voyage from New South Wales to Canton, in the Year 1788, with Views of the Islands Discovered.

Published: London: Printed by George Stafford, for J. Debrett, 1789

Stock code: 90879

Price: £10,000

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First edition of this important, somewhat overlooked, First Fleet account, which also provides a record of the first trading voyage out of Port Jackson. “The Charlotte, commanded by Captain Gilbert, was one of the first fleet of ships conveying convicts and settlers to New South Wales in 1787. Having landed their consignments of convicts… [and] making his way to Canton to bring back a cargo of tea for the East India Company on a track lying many degrees to the east of that pursued by any of the circumnavigators, Gilbert and Marshall discovered many important islands, including the ones that bear their respective names” (Hill). After his return to England Gilbert was appointed Captain of The Neptune, commissioned to carry another group of convicts as part of the Second Fleet. When The Neptune was embarking convicts at Plymouth, Gilbert became involved in a dispute with the NSW Corps, just recently formed to take the role of the Marine Corps on these voyages, as to who had ultimate authority over the convicts. “As the dispute worsened, with threatened violence, Gilbert was removed from the ship to be replaced by Donald Trail in December 1789, shortly before the ships sailed to New South Wales” (First Fleet Fellowship web-site, retrieved 27/05/2014). Gilbert’s account is testimony his “navigational and seamen skills”especially “as they were sailing ‘blind’ with no charts to guide them on their outward voyage from Sydney Cove”.

Quarto (290 227 mm). Recent mid-brown morocco to style, red morocco label, narrow flattened bands, compartments gilt with vase tools, floral corner-pieces, wide Greek key panel to the boards, edge-roll of roundels and lozenges, attractive roll featuring a floral rounde lto the turn-ins, marbled endpapers. Title-page vignette, and 4 folding lithographic coastal profiles, bound without half-title or final advertisement leaf. Light browning and some spotting, title page marginally soiled, plates creased from old misfolds, overall very good.

Bibliography: Ferguson 38, 71; Hill 702, 132; Wantrup 18.

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