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    "One of the Early and Fundamental Books on the Northwest Coast of America in General and on Alaska in Particular" (Lada-Mocarski)-Bound with the Rare "Extra" Plate of the Philippines

    John Meares. Voyages Made in the Years 1788 and 1789, from China to the North West Coast of America. To which are prefixed, An Introductory Narrative of A Voyage performed in 1786, from Bengal, in the ship Nootka; Observations on the Probable Existence of A North West Passage; and Some Account of the Trade between the North West Coast of America and China; and the Latter Country and Great Britain. London: Printed at the Logographic Press; and Sold by J. Walter..., 1790. First edition of "one of the early and fundamental books on the Northwest coast of America in general and on Alaska in particular" (Lada-Mocarski). Large thick quarto (11.5 x 9.125 inches; 291 x 233 mm.). viii, [5, list of subscribers], [7, table of contents], xcv ("An Introductory Voyage"), [1, errata], 372, [44, tables of the routes of the Felice, the Iphigenia, and the Northwest America Schooner], [64, appendices] pages. In this copy, pages lxiii, 39, 120, and 197 are misnumbered lxii, 36, 20, and 179, respectively; page 209 is correctly numbered; and the plate facing page is correctly captioned "Tianna, a Prince of Atooi." Twenty-seven engraved plates and maps, comprising stipple and soft-ground engraved frontispiece portrait of the author by Charles Bestland after William Beechey; seventeen plates, including two stipple portraits, one line engraving, and fourteen aquatints (seven folding) by Joseph Saunders, Robert Pollard, John Wells, and others, after T. S. Parry, John Meares, Thomas Stothard, C. M. Metz, and others; and nine (of ten) engraved charts, plans, and sketches (three folding). One plate tinted in sepia. This copy is bound with the rare folding plate "Views of the Land on the Philipine [sic] Islands-to the Southward of Manilla," facing page 17 (usually lacking), but without the map "A View of Otter Sound," to face page 305.
    Contemporary half calf, ruled in blind, over marbled paper-covered boards. Front cover stamped in gilt: "Pakenham Hall" [Suffolk]. Spine ruled and lettered in gilt in compartments with five raised bands, top compartment with gilt stamp of Thomas Packenham, 2nd Earl of Longford, 1774-1835 (Stamp 1, "Initial L [with] Coronet of an Earl", see University of Toronto Libraries, British Armorial Bindings, at All edges marbled. Binding rubbed; several small areas of surface loss to both marbled paper and calf (due to biopredation); joints cracking. Slightly shaken; over-opened between frontispiece and title. Some foxing and browning; offsetting to leaves adjacent to maps and plates. Small stain with adhesion in upper margin of pages 354 and 355, the stain visible on Xx1-ZZ4 (pages 345-368); a few additional small marginal stains. Small adhesion to plate facing page 220, affecting a few letters in caption. Short diagonal tear to lower margin of M3 (pages 93/94); one-inch by two-and-one-quarter-inch piece torn from lower corner of O4 (pages 111/112); a few additional tiny marginal tears; a few corners folded in before trimming. Large folding chart facing page [i] of "An Introductory Voyage" creased at inner edge and repaired on verso; folding chart facing page [1] with short tear into image, browned at outer edge, and curling at inner edge. Overall, a very good copy of this important voyage.
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    "John Meares [1756?-1809] was sent out from Calcutta by a group of merchants who were eager to enter into the fur trade of the northwest coast of America. He made his first visit to the Northwest in 1786 in the appropriately named Nootka, and returned in 1788 in the Felice Adventurer. During the second visit, he raised the British flag, erected a two-story house at Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound, and assembled the Northwest America, the first ship to be launched in northern waters. He explored the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and discovered Port Cox, which he named after his friend John Henry Cox, as well as Port Effingham. Meares missed discovering the Columbia River, which he observed but called Deception Bay. The discoveries made by Meares were part of the basis for Great Britain's claim to the Oregon territory. Meares's activities had provoked the Spanish authorities in the region, and after Meares departed for Hawaii and Macao, the Spanish commander, Esteban José Martínez, seized several ships belonging to Meares and his partners. Among the captive ships were the Northwest America, the Iphigenia Nubiana (a Macao ship flying Portuguese colors, but apparently belonging to Meares and his associates), the Argonaut (under Captain James Colnett), and the Princess Royal. Learning of the seizures, Meares sailed for England, arriving in 1790. Here he remained, submitting a Memorial for compensation to his government, which resulted in the famed Nootka Sound Controversy. War between Great Britain and Spain was averted with the signing of the Nootka Convention of 1790, which recognized British rights in the region and disallowed Spanish claims to the northern territories. This important narrative, compiled from Meare's papers by the versatile writer William Combe, gives a very full account of the Indian nations of Northwest America, describing their villages, languages, manners, and customs. It also contains a separate account of the voyage of the Iphigenia Nubiana, commanded by Captain William Douglas, which visited the Sandwich Islands as well as Nootka Sound" (Hill).


    "Meares made two fur-trading voyages to the Northwest Coast. The first, sponsored by Bengal merchants, included the ships Nootka and Sea Otter, which sailed from Calcutta on March 2, 1786. On this voyage Meares reached Alaska and visited Kodiak but was continually frustrated by the presence of the Russians. On the Northwest Coast he met Portlock and Dixon. In June 1787 he sailed to Hawaii and continued on to Canton, taking with him the Hawaiian chief Kiana (whose portrait is included among the plates). On the Nootka, Meares again arrived at Hawaii August 2, 1787, and departed September 2, 1787. [He] returned to Hawaii as master of the Felice, October 18 and departed October 26, 1788. Meares' second voyage to the American coast (1787-1788) was to alter the course of history. In 1788 he determined to establish a permanent fur-trading settlement at Nootka and engaged Colnett of the Argonaut and Hudson of the Princess Royal to accompany him. Shortly after arrival in territory claimed by Spain, the ships Iphigenia, Argonaut, and Princess Royal were seized by a Spanish frigate, and the resulting action, known as the 'Nootka Controversy,' nearly precipitated a war between England and Spain. The appendixes to this work contain letters and instructions, Dufferin's journal kept while exploring the Straits of Juan de Fucca in July 1788, and Meares' memorial to the House of Commons, May 13, 1790, claiming exclusive rights to Nootka and the prior raising of the British flag. Meares' account was central to British claims to the Northwest Territory and led to the convention by which Spain's claim was finally disallowed. This has always been considered 'One of the early and fundamental books on the Northwest coast of America in general and on Alaska in particular' (Lada-Mocarski)" (Forbes).


    " The voyages of Meares are an important link in the chain of American discovery, of which he was one of the pioneers. The English claim to Oregon depended mainly on his discoveries, and the seizure of his ships by the Spaniards, led to the convention by which the Spanish claims to any Northern territory were finally disallowed" (Sabin).


    Abbey, Travel, 594 ("John Walter, the printer and publisher of this book, was the founder of The Times"). Cordier, Sinica, III, column 2103. Cox II, page 29; ESTC T98966; Forbes 201; Graff 2734; Hill 1126; Howes M469; Lada-Mocarski 46; Lust 344; Sabin 47260 ("There are copies on large paper"); Smith 6690; Streeter VI, 3491; Taylor p. 197; Wickersham 6595.


    The engraved charts, plans, and sketches include:

    "A Chart of the Northern Pacific Ocean, Containing the N. C. Coast of Asia & N. W. Coast of America, Explored in 1778 & 1779, by Captain Cook, and further Explored in 1788 & 1789, by John Meares," engraved by Palmer after J. Haywood (facing page [i] of the "Introductory Voyage"); "A Chart of the Interior Part of North America Demonstrating the very great probability of an Inland Navigation from Hudsons Bay to the West Coast," engraved by Woodman & Mutlow after J. Haywood (facing page [1]); "Chart of the N. W. Coast of America and N. E. Coast of Asia, explored in the Years 1778, 1779, by Captn. Cook; and further explored, in 1788, and 1789; after J. Haywood; "Sketch of Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound, taken by Mr Wedgborough," engraved by T. Foot; "A Sketch of Port Cox in the District of Wicananish," engraved by T. Foot; "A Plan of Port Effingham. Berkley's Sound;" "A View of Otter Sound," engraved by T. Foot; "A Plan of Sea Otter Harbour and St. Patricks Bay, taken by Capt. James Hanna," engraved by Foot; "A View of Port Meares," engraved by T. Foot; and "A Sketch of Raft-Cove, taken by Mr. Funter, Master of the North West American," engraved by T. Foot.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,253

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