Our shops are open and we are processing online, telephone and email orders as normal


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. A New Edition, with Corrections.

London: John Stockdale, 1801 Stock Code: 146667
Reserve Ask us a question

A handsome set of the 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); "This is one of the most important voyages for the history and cartography of the northwest coast of the United States in general and of Alaska in particular" (Lada-Mocarski).

The fourteen-year-old 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".

Confused? Read our glossary


6 volumes, octavo (208 x 123 mm). Contemporary hand-tooled calf, rebacked to style, sections of the original spines retained and laid down, spines with five low raised bands, titles and three-masted ship devices in gilt within compartments to spines, vine-patterned frame rolled in blind to covers within single gilt rule frame, plain endpapers, board edges rolled in blind, book block edges speckled brown.


2 large folding maps and 17 folding engraved plates by John Landseer, James Heath, James Fittler or Benjamin Thomas Pouncy after William Alexander from sketches made on the spot by John Sykes, Henry Humphrys, Thomas Heddington or Zachary Mudge, all linen


Neat contemporary ownership inscription of Henry Lynes to front free endpapers. Inner hinges neatly reinforced with tissue. Slight rubbing and scuffing to boards, touch of wear to tips, occasional light foxing, contents largely clean; an attractive set.


Forbes 335; Hill 1754; Howes V23; Howgego I V13; Lada-Mocarski 55 (for the first edition); NMM I 142; Sabin 98443; Wickersham 6601.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book