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VIANA, Francisco Xavier de.

Diario del viage explorador de las corbetas españolas "Descubierta" y "Atrevida" en los años de 1789 a 1794.

Cerrito de la Victoria [Montevideo] : Army Printing Office, 1849 Stock Code: 113859
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Earliest account of the Malaspina Expedition at Port Jackson 1793

First and only edition of one of the rarest Pacific voyages, the great Spanish scientific expedition under the Italian-born Alessandro Malaspina, 1789 to 1794, throughout the Pacific, exploring and mapping much of the west coast of the Americas from Cape Horn to the Gulf of Alaska, then across to the Philippines, with stops in Australia and New Zealand. While the Malaspina expedition was planned as the Spanish answer to Cook and La Pérouse, the ill-advised involvement of the commander in a court intrigue once back in Madrid led to his imprisonment and the complete suppression of the planned official account, including the scientific and other results. The earliest account of the voyage was not published until 1849 by Francisco Xavier de Viana, who had served as an ensign on the expedition and later settled in Uruguay, where this rare account was printed. Lada-Mocarski considered that "Viana's diary is of immense value. It is the only full and detailed printed account of Malaspina's voyage from California to Alaska by one of the participants".

It is also of considerable Australian importance. The Spanish visit to Port Jackson came only five years after the foundation of the colony and caused considerable interest in Sydney: Collins, for example, gives an extended account of their visit. One expedition member wrote to Sir Joseph Banks of "the very extraordinary humanity and kindness with which the English in their new Colony welcomed us" and while there the scientists made good use of their time. The artists also made a very fine series of drawings at Port Jackson, a valuable record of the state of the colony and including the only known depictions of convicts at that period. Viana's extended account of Sydney at this crucial time is one of very few published (and unpublished) accounts of the infant colony by an independent eyewitness. The Port Jackson section occupies pp. 258-66 here. Viana's sons prepared their father's account for the press. It was printed on the travelling press of the army besieging Montevideo during the war between Argentine and Uruguay, thus partially explaining its great scarcity. It was not republished until 1967 when the Australian Documentary Facsimile Society issued a small edition of the section on Port Jackson with a preface and translation by A. Grove and Virginia M. Day.

WorldCat locates 18 copies institutionally, but with just a handful of copies recorded at auction, it is uncommon in commerce, and this an extremely attractive copy in unrestored contemporary condition.

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Octavo (202 x 145 mm) signed in quarter-sheets. Contemporary red morocco-grain roan, title gilt to the spine, gilt panelling to the boards, edges stained yellow. Housed in a crimson quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Original printed front wrapper bound in, front wrapper and text within typographical frame throughout.


Boards a little rubbed and spotted, corners knocked, tan-burn from the turn-ins to the pastedowns, off-set browning from a small newspaper clipping verso of the front free onto the front wrap, pale toning to the text, remains very good. Contemporary ownership inscription of Eduardo Fox, dated 1868, to the front wrap.


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