"THE MOST IMPORTANT GENERAL HISTORY OF EARLY SOUTH SEA DISCOVERIES": BURNEY'S ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF EXPLORATION IN THE SOUTH SEAS
BURNEY, James. A Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean. Part I. Commencing with an Account of the earliest Discovery of that Sea by Europeans, And terminating with the Voyage of Sir Francis Drake, in 1579; Part II. From the Year 1579, to the Year 1620. London: Printed by Luke Hansard, Sold by G. and W. Nicol, et al., 1803, 1806. Two volumes. Large quarto (9-1/2 by 12 inches), modern full paneled brown calf gilt, raised bands, tan morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers. $7000.
First editions, large paper copies of the first two parts of Burney's classic work on Pacific exploration—Part I illustrated with five folding engraved charts (some with color outlining), Part II with ten engraved plates consisting of charts and views (five folding) and four in-text wood-engravings. The entire work was published over 14 years, and these two important first parts often appear separately, as here.
Able seaman James Burney accompanied Captain Cook on his second voyage of discovery to the South Seas. "During the voyage, he received his first commission, as second lieutenant of the Adventure, the sister-ship of the Resolution… In 1776, he accompanied Cook on his third voyage of discovery, during which he witnessed the death of Captain Cook. At the very end of the voyage, upon the death of his immediate superior, Captain Charles Clerke, in 1779, Burney was promoted to commander of the Discovery" (McGill University). Upon his retirement from his naval career in 1785, Burney began compiling what is regarded as "the most important general history of early South Sea discoveries, containing practically everything of importance of the subject; collected from all sources, with the most important remarks concerning them… His access to the London literary world served to enhance the style of his great work" (Hill 221). The brother of diarist and novelist Fanny Burney, Burney's history of South Sea exploration displays a rare union of nautical science and literary research. "Well known as the standard work on the subject" (DNB), Burney published this important work in five separate parts from 1803 through 1817. "A monumental and valuable synthesis" (Howes B1002). These are the first two parts of that series. Bound in between pages x and xi of Volume I are cancel leaves (with extremely minor variations) for leaves P4 and Bb; the original leaves are also present in their proper order. Cox II, 497.
Plates and maps fine, only occasional faint marginal foxing to text; binding fine. A beautiful copy.