The Elements of Navigation; containing the Theory and Practice. With all the necessary Tables. To which is added, A Treatise of Marine Fortification. John ROBERTSON.
The Elements of Navigation; containing the Theory and Practice. With all the necessary Tables. To which is added, A Treatise of Marine Fortification.
The Elements of Navigation; containing the Theory and Practice. With all the necessary Tables. To which is added, A Treatise of Marine Fortification.
The Elements of Navigation; containing the Theory and Practice. With all the necessary Tables. To which is added, A Treatise of Marine Fortification.
The Elements of Navigation; containing the Theory and Practice. With all the necessary Tables. To which is added, A Treatise of Marine Fortification.
The Elements of Navigation; containing the Theory and Practice. With all the necessary Tables. To which is added, A Treatise of Marine Fortification.
The Elements of Navigation; containing the Theory and Practice. With all the necessary Tables. To which is added, A Treatise of Marine Fortification.

The Elements of Navigation; containing the Theory and Practice.
The Elements of Navigation; containing the Theory and Practice. With all the necessary Tables. To which is added, A Treatise of Marine Fortification.

London: J. Nourse, 1764.

Two volumes, large octavo, 11 folding plates and five folding maps (two celestial), many diagrams and engraved headpieces; an attractive set in contemporary sprinkled calf; spines numbered but unlettered.

From the library at Westport House

A fine set, with apt provenance, of the rare second edition of the standard textbook on navigation for the eighteenth-century British navy. First published in 1754, Robertson's Elements of Navigation was considered important enough that it was updated and republished every decade or so, meaning that it was used and studied by everyone from Carteret to Matthew Flinders, and undoubtedly by Cook as well. Notably the fourth edition of 1780 was revised by William Wales, astronomer and member of Captain Cook's second voyage. Robertson had a long and important career, and was involved in many practical and theoretical developments in navigation and mapping. In 1747 he was appointed assistant to James Hodgson at the Royal Mathematical School at Christ's Hospital in the City of London, and two decades later was appointed clerk and librarian to the Royal Society. He was also involved in trialling Harrison's chronometers.

A fine set, with apt provenance, of the rare second edition of the standard textbook on navigation for the eighteenth-century British navy. First published in 1754, Robertson's Elements of Navigation was considered important enough that it was updated and republished every decade or so, meaning that it was used and studied by everyone from Carteret to Matthew Flinders, and undoubtedly by Cook as well. Notably the fourth edition of 1780 was revised by William Wales, astronomer and member of Captain Cook's second voyage. Robertson had a long and important career, and was involved in many practical and theoretical developments in navigation and mapping. In 1747 he was appointed assistant to James Hodgson at the Royal Mathematical School at Christ's Hospital in the City of London, and two decades later was appointed clerk and librarian to the Royal Society. He was also involved in trialling Harrison's chronometers.

Most of the engravings are by the famous London engraver Thomas Jefferys, who produced many important 18th-century maps. The double-globe map of the world is by Basire, perhaps better known for his portrait of Captain Cook. Basire's map shows tropical currents and winds, and depicts Terra Australis/New Holland in the years before Cook's first voyage. (Torres Strait is not shown, as it was not known in the English tradition until 1769). This edition was improved by the addition of an excellent dissertation on the rise and progress of modern navigation by Dr James Wilson.

Perhaps attesting to this particular edition's use and importance, this is a surprisingly scarce work: when Helen Wallis edited the journals of Carteret she had to resort to using the later third edition, rather than the second which actually travelled with Carteret, as the second 'is rare and no copy is in the national collections in Great Britain' (Helen Wallis, Carteret's Voyage, vol. I, p. 144). A copy of this edition is now listed at Cambridge.

Provenance: This attractive copy was once in the library at Westport House, with the library bookplate in each volume. The house had several interesting connections with the sea: the Browne family were direct descendants of the 16th century Pirate Queen, Grace O'Malley. The first Marchioness of Sligo (as the Brownes were ennobled) was the daughter of Earl Howe, Admiral of the Fleet, the important figure involved in planning of the First Fleet and for whom numerous Australian places are named; on the other hand the second Marquess, Peter Howe, spent four months in gaol for bribing British seamen in time of war, to bring his ship, full of antiquities from Greece to Westport.

Price (AUD): $3,250.00  other currencies     Ref: #3706026

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