1801 “FIRST ACCOUNT OF AN OCEAN-TO-OCEAN CROSSING OF THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT," WITH IMPORTANT LARGE FOLDING MAPS
MACKENZIE, Alexander. Voyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence, through the Continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans; In the Years 1789 and 1793, with a Preliminary Account of… the Fur Trade of that Country. London: for T. Cadell, Jun. et al., 1801. Quarto, modern three-quarter navy morocco, raised bands, marbled boards, top edge gilt. $12,000.
First edition of this cornerstone North American exploring narrative, complete with frontispiece portrait and three large folding maps of North America—the largest measuring approximately 31 by 20 inches and hand-colored in outline. “Of consummate importance in the literature of transcontinental travel… Mackenzie’s account of the fur trade is of almost equal interest” (Graff 2630).
On his first expedition in 1789 Mackenzie canoed nearly 3000 miles from Fort Chipewyan, in present-day Alberta, north and west along the river that now bears his name to the shores of the Arctic Ocean and back again. In 1793, again leaving from Fort Chipewyan, he took the Peace River west to the Continental Divide and continued on foot to the Pacific, thus becoming the first European to reach the Pacific across the Rockies. News of Mackenzie's achievement, and his recommendation that the British fur trade set up shop at the mouth of the Columbia River, spurred Jefferson to organize a response that would reaffirm U.S. territorial rights to the Pacific Northwest. That response grew into the most important expedition in the history of North American exploration, the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-06. "First and finest edition of the earliest expedition made by a white man in this direction" (Sabin 43414). Bound with half title and errata leaf. Wagner-Camp 1. Howes M133. Streeter VI:3653. Field 967. Evidence of bookplate.
Two maps backed with linen; large map with expert reinforcement to verso, bound in upside-down. Text unusually clean, attractive morocco binding fine.