“ONE OF THE MOST VALUABLE OF MODERN VOYAGES”: 1831 FIRST EDITION OF BEECHEY’S VOYAGE TO THE PACIFIC AND BEERING’S STRAIT
BEECHEY, Frederick William. Narrative of A Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait, To Cooperate with the Polar Expeditions… In the Years 1825, 26, 27, 28. London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1831. Two volumes. Tall quarto, contemporary three-quarter brown calf rebacked, raised bands, black and burgundy morocco spine labels, marbled boards, endpapers and edges. $8500.
First edition of “one of the most valuable of modern voyages” (Hill), with two large folding maps, one double-page map, and 23 plates.
The H.M.S. Blossom was commissioned by the Admiralty as a relief expedition to the Bering Strait to await the expeditions of Captains Parry and Franklin on their search for a Northwest Passage. Beechey was instructed to explore those areas of the Pacific on his route, and to reach the Bering Strait no later than July 10, 1826. Under Beechey, the Blossom visited Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, and the Managareva Islands (on which Beechey was the first European to land), sailed through the Tuamotus, reached Tahiti and stopped briefly on Hawaii. At Kamchatka, Beechey learned of Parry's return, and spent July to October in Kotzebue Sound, tragically missing Franklin by only fifty leagues near Point Barrow, Alaska. He continued his exploration of the Arctic in the next year, entering Kotzebue Sound from the west. Beechey's narrative also "provides an important account of Monterey and San Francisco before the American conquest, and of the Eskimos of the north" (Hill, 19), and is also known for his detailed description of his meeting with John Adams, the last survivor of the mutiny on the Bounty. "The quarto edition is much to be preferred" (Lada-Mocarski, 95). The maps are a chart of the Pacific showing the route of Beechey's ship and a map of the Northwest Coast of Alaska. Also contains an Eskimo vocabulary. With additional errata slip tipped in before page one in Volume I; advertisement leaf at rear of Volume II. Zamorano 80: 4. Ferguson, 1418. Sabin, 4347.
Plates with generally marginal foxing, text and maps fine; binding handsome. An excellent copy.