Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea

John FRANKLIN

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Item#: 127006 price:$6,000.00

Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea
Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea
Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea
Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea
Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea
Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea

“ONE OF THE MOST TERRIBLE JOURNEYS ON RECORD”: FIRST EDITION OF FRANKLIN’S DRAMATIC NARRATIVE OF HIS FIRST ARCTIC EXPEDITION, WITH 12 FINE HAND-COLORED PLATES AND FOUR MAPS

FRANKLIN, John. Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, in the Years 1819, 20, 21, and 22. London: John Murray, 1823. Thick quarto, contemporary full marbled calf gilt, raised bands, black morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers. $6000.

First edition of Franklin's first overland Arctic expedition, illustrated with 30 engraved plates—11 hand-colored—along with four large folding maps. "A classic book of Arctic hardship" (Stam & Stam 3.1).

Franklin's expedition was carried out overland and on foot, beginning in 1819 and lasting three years—"years of frustration and ultimately catastrophe for a naval leader unaccustomed to the lubberly world of land exploration. Sir John [Franklin] had not hiked, canoed, or hunted anywhere in the Arctic, but he was assigned the task of traveling north from Great Slave Lake in northern Canada to the coast of Victoria Island, in order to map the coast west to Alaska… Why the Admiralty would have engaged in such a mission and, even stranger, would send someone without a landsman's experience is not at all clear. The expedition… was forced to return, for they were near starvation and unable to kill sufficient game such as musk oxen for food… As Franklin's expedition trekked back toward Great Slave Lake, they were reduced to eating old shoes and other scraps of leather" (Officer & Page, A Fabulous Kingdom, 81-2). "It is one of the most terrible journeys on record, many of the party dying from cold, hunger, or murder. The distance traveled was some 5500 miles, and Franklin's narrative at once became a classic of travel literature. The plates are engraved by Finden, from drawings by Lieuts. Hood and Back. The natural history appendices are important" (Hill 635). This extraordinary account of that disaster-laden expedition, which suffered the death of 11 men and the loss of essential boats, is "an invaluable one for the history of the discovery of the regions… and for the interesting descriptions and details of the many tribes of Indians and Esquimaux met with" (Stevens 1706). Illustrated with 30 plates, including 12 hand-colored. The extensive appendices, not included in later editions, include notes on the Aurora Borealis; tables on latitude and longitude; temperatures; and detailed geological, astronomical, and botanical and zoological sections. With tipped-in errata slip; bound without half title. Arctic Bibliography 5194. Stam & Stam 3.1. Hill 635. Abbey Travel 635. Wagner-Camp 1406. Graff 23:1. Sabin 25624 (lists 34 plates, not the 30 as in the "List of Plates"). Field, 135. Bookplate; owner's cipher as gilt centerpiece on both covers.

Some mild occasional foxing, chiefly marginal; joints expertly repaired, only slight rubbing to board edges. A handsome copy in nicely refurbished contemporary calf-gilt.

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