"THE STUDY OF COOK IS THE ILLUMINATION OF ALL DISCOVERY": HANDSOME COLLECTION OF FULL FIRST EDITIONS OF COOK'S THREE VOYAGES, INCLUDING THE FIRST ATTEMPTED MAPPING OF THE NORTHWEST COAST OF AMERICA
(PACIFIC VOYAGES) (COOK, James). Cook's Three Voyages, Comprising: HAWKESWORTH, John. An Account of the Voyages undertaken… for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere. Three volumes. WITH: COOK, James. A Voyage towards the South Pole, and Round the World. Two volumes. WITH: COOK, James and KING, James. A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean… for making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. Three volumes. London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1773, 1777, 1784. Eight volumes altogether. Quarto, second and third voyages in contemporary full tree calf rebacked with original elaborately gilt-decorated spines neatly laid down, first voyage in uniform period-style full tree calf gilt, red and green morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers.
Scarce complete set of first editions of Cook's three Pacific voyages, including a first issue of the First Voyage, superbly illustrated with 203 engraved charts, maps and plates, many double-page or folding—including the famous "Death of Captain Cook" plate, drawn by Webber and engraved by Bartolozzi, issued separately and here bound in. A uniformly and very handsomely bound set in eight large quarto volumes.
Facing challenges surpassed only by modern space flight, Captain James Cook embodied the spirit of the great age of maritime discovery. The only 18th-century explorer to lead more than one Pacific voyage, he embarked on three circumnavigations between 1768 and 1776, essentially transforming into their modern form the dangerously unreliable maps of the Pacific's expanse and the New World's western coast. Official accounts of his three voyages, with their remarkable engravings and splendid atlas, found an eager public, the first edition of the final voyage selling out in three days. In the words of his principal biographer, "The study of Cook is the illumination of all discovery."
"The famous accounts of Captain Cook's three voyages form the basis for any collection of Pacific books. In three great voyages Cook did more to clarify the geographical knowledge of the Southern Hemisphere than all his predecessors had done together. He was the first really scientific navigator and his voyages made great contributions to many fields of knowledge" (Hill). In his first voyage (1768-1771), Cook observed the Transit of Venus at Tahiti, rediscovered and charted New Zealand, and discovered and charted the east coast of Australia. The 1773 first edition "forms an indispensable part of a series of Cook's voyages. The first edition is preferred for its plates" (Sabin 30934). This first issue of the first edition contains 51 engraved plates, maps and charts, and does not include the "Chart of the Streight of Magellan" or the "Directions for placing the Cuts and Charts," neither present in the first issue, according to Holmes.
In his second voyage (1772-75), Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle for the first time in history and disproved the existence of the supposed "Great Southern Continent"; includes 64 engraved plates and maps, several folding. In his third voyage (1776-79), he searched for the North-West Passage, charted the American west coast from Northern California through the Bering Strait, and discovered the Hawaiian Islands, which he named the Sandwich Islands; includes 24 plates and maps, several folding, along with the two maps and 61 large folio plates originally issued in an atlas folio volume, here bound in appropriately. This set also includes the famous "Death of Captain Cook" plate, issued separately, bound in opposite page 44 of Volume III. This especially important third voyage was "the first voyage attempting an adequate examination and charting of our northwest coast" (Howes C729a). "Cook was the first navigator to accurately map the coast, and, by carrying away a collection of furs, he introduced the fur trade to the English and American traders, whose subsequent expeditions were based upon his discoveries… no other contemporaneously printed source narrative is of comparable importance" (Eberstadt 127: 353). PMM 223. Sabin 30934, 16245, 16250. Holmes, Bibliography of Captain Cook, 5, 24, 47. Beddie, Bibliography of Captain James Cook, 648, 1216, 1543. Hill, 358, 361, 782. Occasional pencil marginalia.
Volume II of the third voyage with some staining along upper edge of text and plates. A very desirable, wide-margined set beautifully bound in nicely restored contemporary tree calf-gilt.