“WITHOUT PARALLEL IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH”
THOMSON, C. Wyville. Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger During the Years 1873-76. London: Longmans & Co., et al., 1885., 1882. Two volumes bound in three. Large quarto, contemporary full dark green morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. Housed in custom slipcases. $8000.
First edition of the illustrated Narrative section of the report on the Challenger—a voyage “without parallel in the history of scientific research” (Britannica)—with 37 full-page photographic plates (two folding panoramas), 14 fine full-page chromolithographs, 66 charts and diagrams (20 folding), large folding map and numerous in-text wood engravings, handsomely bound by Donnelley. The binder’s own copy, with his bookplates.
Sailing from Portsmouth in December 1872, the Challenger spent a year criss-crossing the Atlantic to gather information on largely unexplored island chains such as the Azores, the Cape Verde Islands and the Bermudas. In early 1874 she became the first steamship to cross the Antarctic Circle. The second portion of the voyage was spent researching the Pacific's western and northern reaches. The present section of the work relates the day-to-day trials the crew faced as well as specifically charting the vessel's course. Especially notable are the early photographic prints of some of the Earth's more remote regions, including striking images of antarctic icebergs and a penguin rook on Inaccessible Island. The full report of the voyage, issued in 40 volumes from 1880 to 1895, endures as one of the great modern contributions to science and cartography. It was "the first Antarctic expedition whose aims were solely scientific," and it "founded the discipline of oceanography" (Conrad, 67). Without the large folding map showing the Challenger's route. Volume II published before Volume I, as explained in a note from the publisher tipped to Volume II's Table of Contents. In 1877, Thomson's "Preliminary Account" of the expedition preceded the present work (Conrad, 70; Fitzgerald Collection 703). Small morocco bookplates of Neva and (Clarence) Guy Littell; Guy Littell was president of the R.R. Donnelley & Sons binding company, which bound these volumes (bindery tickets tipped in).
Closed tear to editorial slip tipped into Volume I. Plates and text generally clean. Spines lightly rubbed and uniformly toned to brown. A very nearly fine set, handsomely bound.