The First American Account of Cook's Journey and the First American Book on the Northwest Coast
Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage. to the Pacific Ocean, and in Quest of a North-West Passage, between Asia & American; Performed in the Years 1776, 1777, 1778, and 1779. Illustrated with a Chart, shewing the Tracts of the Ships employed in this Expedition. Faithfully narrated from the original MS. of Mr. John Ledyard.
Hartford: Printed and sold by Nathaniel Patten, 1783.
to the Pacific Ocean, and in Quest of a North-West Passage, between Asia & America; Performed in the Years 1776, 1777, 1778, and 1779. Illustrated with a Chart, shewing the Tracts of the Ships employed in this Expedition. Faithfully narrated from the original MS. of Mr. John Ledyard. Hartford: Printed and sold by Nathaniel Patten, 1783.
First edition. Octavo in fours (6 5/8 x 4 3/8 inches; 169 x 111 mm). -208 pp. Map absent as is almost always the case (see note).
Contemporary full brown sheep. Red morocco spine label, lettered in blind. Original stab holes present, indicating that this copy was once in original wrappers, with seemingly original endpapers. Boards with some rubbing and edges bumped. Inner hinges with some minor professional repairs. Date "1783" in blue ink on title-page. Front free endpaper with old ink notes. A bit of toning and staining, however considerably clean and bright, unusual for an American book of this period. Housed in a custom oatmeal cloth clamshell. Overall a very good copy.
“The first American account of Cook’s Third Voyage, which preceded publication of the official (London) narrative by more than a year. The author, a corporal of the marines aboard the Resolution, was one of several Americans on the voyage but the only one to publish an account. As all hands were ordered at Macao to ‘deliver up their journals, and every writing, remark, or memorandum, on pain of the severest punishment in case of concealment’ for forwarding to the Admiralty...Ledyard relied in great part on a copy of the Rickman narrative in drawing up this account. He however includes details of the voyage not available elsewhere. The account of his stay at Hawaii, including his inland expedition and the death of Captain Cook at Kealakekua Bay, occupies 64 pages of the text” (Forbes). "Ledyard is an important man in the history of American contacts in the South Seas. Not only was he the first New Englander in the Pacific, but he went there under the great Captain Cook and was with him when Hawaii was discovered. Ledyard visualized in the most minute detail how the northwest coast-China trade should be carried out, and his ideas and enthusiasm undoubtedly influenced the eventual development of that important trade. The author's narrative, distinguished by its evident authenticity, includes a detailed account of the death of Cook" (Hill).
The first American book on the Northwest Coast and likely the first American book on Hawaii.
Concerning the absence of the map we read in the Hawaiian National Bibliography: "The map is particularly rare and is almost always lacking even in otherwise very good copies. Due to the erratic nature of American printing of the period, it may well be that the map was not produced until the work was well under way, or that it cost extra to purchasers, as some copes show no evidence that it was ever present (as is the case with this copy). In the American Antiquarian Society copy the map is bound on a stub at page 161 (the beginning of Part III). This appears to be added evidence that the map did not appear until the last part of the publication was issued" (p. 44).
The book was first issued in parts in wrappers but this is an almost unheard-of rarity (the H.N.B only locates two examples), with bound copies themselves being exceedingly rare. The copy offered here was once in wrappers and the stab holes are still present.
Evans 17998. Hawaiian National Bibliography 52. Hill I, pp. 176-177. Sabin 39691. Lada-Mocarski 36. Kroepelin 717. Howes L-178.