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PARKINSON, Sydney.

A Journal of the Voyage to the South Seas,

in His Majesty's ship, the Endeavour. Faithfully transcribed from the Papers of the Late Sydney Parkinson, Draughtsman to Joseph Banks, esq. on his Late Expedition with Dr. Solander, round the World. Embellished with Views and Designs, delineated by the Author, and engraved by Capital Artists.

Published: London: Printed for Stanfield Parkinson, the Editor, 1773

Stock code: 93909

Price: £7,750

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

First Edition. His skill in botanical drawing being noticed at an exhibition of the Free Society of Artists in 1765–6 Parkinson went to work for James Lee at his nursery in Hammersmith. Commissions from Joseph Banks followed, Parkinson being employed to “depict in water-colours from the preserved material some of the creatures collected on his 1766 expedition to Labrador and Newfoundland, and to make copies for him of paintings of Indian mammals and birds made for Gideon Loten, a former governor of Ceylon.” [ODNB] Some of these latter being reproduced in Pennant’s Indian Zoology. In 1768 when Banks formed his suite of “scientific gentlemen” to accompany Cook’s voyage to the South Seas, Parkinson went as botanical draughtsman. The death at Tahiti of Alexander Buchan, the topographical draughtsman, threw a heavy extra burden on him but he attacked his task with “great flair and diligence,” making at least 1300 sketches during the voyage “including the first in Western history of an Australian landscape and of its inhabitants at first hand, as well as compiled vocabularies of the languages spoken in Tahiti and New Holland, by the time the ship called at Batavia for repairs on the voyage home.” At Batavia, like many others, Parkinson contracted dysentery and died at sea shortly afterwards. A dispute arose over his papers with his executors being paid £500 for the balance of salary due and for the papers and drawings, which Banks, as his employer, had felt were his property. Parkinson’s brother Stanfield had a copy made of the papers whilst they were on loan to him, contrary to his arrangement with Banks, and arranged for publication; “… he was restrained by an injunction from doing so until the official account of the voyage had appeared… A result of the squabble was that although Hawkesworth, who edited [it] used Parkinson’s papers and drawings freely he did not acknowledge them” (Dictionary of Australian Biography). The journal contains “much colourful detail not in those kept by Cook and Banks.” An excellent copy of this uncommon and important account.

Folio, (332 272 mm.) Later mottled calf by Zaehnsdorf, double red morocco labels and date to the tail of the spine, low bands with dotted twist roll, framed by dog-tooth rolls, compartments gilt with large floral centre-tools, triple fillet panel to the boards with cinquefoil corner-tools, double fillet edge-roll, all edges gilt, inner gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers. Engraved portrait frontispiece after James Newton, 27 other plates depicting scenery, South Sea Islanders and their accoutrements, and the famous image of “Two Natives of New Holland advancing to Combat”, and map of New Zealand. Skilful restoration to the spine, head and tail and to the joints, light toning, some off-setting as usual, but overall a handsomely presented, clean, and wide-margined copy.

Bibliography: Hill 1309; Hocken 12-13; Howgego C173; NMM I, 564; Sabin 58787.

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