KEATE, George.

An Account of the Pelew Islands,

situated in the Western Part of the Pacific Ocean. Composed from the Journals and Communications of Captain Henry Wilson, and some of his Officers, who, in August 1783, were there shipwrecked, in the Antelope, a Packet belonging to the Honourable East India Company.

London: Printed for Captain Wilson; and sold by G. Nicol, 1789 Stock Code: 130923
£1,250.00
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Shipwrecked on Palau

Third edition, published a year after the first. For this edition Keate adds a note to the introduction, commenting on the public's favourable reaction and that the book's main attraction is its portrait of Lee Boo, "which unequivocally proves, that a picture of Human Nature, distinguished only by virtuous simplicity, hath been able, in an age of the most polished refinement, to attract so much the attention of the Public".

"In 1783, the Antelope, commanded by Captain Henry Wilson, was wrecked on a reef near one of the Palau (Pelew) Islands, a previously unexplored group. The entire crew managed to get safely ashore, where they were well treated by the natives and eventually managed to build a small vessel from the wreck, in which they reached Macao. They took Prince Lee Boo, one of King Abba Thulle's sons, with them to England, where he made a very good impression. Unhappily, in spite of all precautions, he soon died of smallpox Keates's Account was extremely popular, and in 1788 and 1789 four editions were printed in London" (Hill); included is a vocabulary of the Palauan language. George Keate (1729-1797), writer and painter, whose "interests respectively in natural history and in antiquarian studies led to his being elected to fellowships of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries, both in 1766... Although Keate is now remembered, if at all, as a minor artist, this seems a somewhat harsh judgement on one whose wide-ranging intellectual curiosity about literary, artistic, and scientific fields was genuine and deeply committed" (ODNB).

Two of the three portraits are by Henry Kingsbury after Arthur William Devis, son of Arthur Devis, who accompanied Wilson as draughtsman on the Antelope. The charming portrait of Lee Boo - "in European dress and hairstyle with a gentle, enquiring expression" (ODNB) - was sketched by Keate's daughter Georgiana Jane, who exhibited at the Society of Arts in 1791.

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Description

Quarto (294 x 225 mm). Contemporary calf neatly rebacked with original smooth spine and red morocco label laid down, spine divided by gilt paired rules enclosing a double helix roll tool, central motifs of a sunburst emanating from an oval, sides with single-line gilt border, marbled endpapers.

Illustrations

Stipple engraved portrait frontispiece of Wilson by James Heath after John Russell and 16 plates (including large folding map, 3 portraits, 4 views, 7 of artefacts, one plan).

Condition

Lower corners slightly worn, covers abraded and furbished, short split to foot of rear joint, old neat repair to inner hinges, neat repair to map stub, scattered marginal foxing, couple of faint old stains. A very good, well-margined copy.

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