London: Becket and De Hondt, 1771.
Quarto, complete with the rare dedication leaf; trimmed to a square octavo size, with pages cut close to the text; an unusual copy but in fact most attractive, bound in contemporary polished half calf over sprinkled paper boards, with the gilt cipher of George III to both boards; quarter calf box.
Earliest account of the Endeavour voyage: from the library of George III
First edition of the earliest published account of Cook's first voyage to the Pacific: the rare first issue, with the leaf of dedication to 'The Right Honourable Lords of the Admiralty, and to Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander' inserted by the publisher to add authenticity. The binding is unusual in that the binder has taken advantage of the small text block to trim the book to a small square-octavo scale, while the covers have the royal cipher of King George III in gilt.
First edition of the earliest published account of Cook's first voyage to the Pacific: the rare first issue, with the leaf of dedication to 'The Right Honourable Lords of the Admiralty, and to Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander' inserted by the publisher to add authenticity. The binding is unusual in that the binder has taken advantage of the small text block to trim the book to a small square-octavo scale, while the covers have the royal cipher of King George III in gilt.This was the first of a series of so-called "surreptitious accounts" of Cook's various voyages to appear in print: the Admiralty found it practically impossible to enforce their ruling that no unofficial publications should pre-empt the official and lengthier accounts of the voyages, naturally much slower in the press. In this case, however, legal action was taken against the publisher for using an unauthorised dedication, forcing removal of the leaf during publication. 'It is accordingly of the greatest rarity, and copies of the book containing the dedication are far more valuable than those without it…' (Davidson). Published anonymously some two months after the return of Endeavour and nearly two years before Hawkesworth's official account, its author remained unknown, though the great Cook scholar Beaglehole demonstrated that the American sailor James Magra is the likeliest candidate. If Magra was indeed the author, his illicit sale of his journal to the publishers might well have confirmed Cook's opinion of him: 'one of those gentlemen, frequently found on board Kings Ships, that can very well be spared, or to speake more planer good for nothing…'. He was a New Yorker and a loyalist.Whatever his skipper and the authorities may have thought of him, it was Magra who got the first description of the voyage into print - and incidentally the earliest printed account of the east coast of Australia, published even before acceptance of the name Botany Bay, here called Sting-ray Bay as Cook originally christened it.
Provenance: This intriguing copy has a remarkable provenance, with the arms of George III on both boards, but apparently released as a duplicate; later in the Victorian-era collection of Thomas Harman Brenchley (armorial bookplate); more recently Commander Ingleton (who noted that the boards have the "royal cipher of King George III on both sides in gilt").
Bagnall, 3324; Beaglehole, I, pp. cclvi-cclxiv; Beddie, 693; Davidson, 'A Book Collector's Notes', pp. 53-4; Hill (2nd edn), 1066 (the second issue); Hocken, p. 9; Holmes, 3; Ingleton sale catalogue, no. 6351; O'Reilly-Reitman, 362.
Price (AUD): $48,500.00 other currencies Ref: #4503929