Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales with sixty-five plates of non descript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions. John WHITE.
Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales with sixty-five plates of non descript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions.

Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales…
Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales with sixty-five plates of non descript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions.

London: J. Debrett, 1790.

Quarto, engraved title and 65 hand coloured plates; in a superb binding of crimson straight-grained morocco gilt, all edges git.

The first natural history of the colony, with fine hand-colouring

A particularly fine copy of the rare deluxe issue: the version of the first edition of this famous First Fleet book in which the plates were coloured by hand. Especially in this form, White's Journal is one of the most beautiful of Australian colour-plate books, and one of the most attractive, as well as one of the earliest, Australian bird books. In this very handsome copy, in a beautiful twentieth-century binding, the colouring is especially superb.

A particularly fine copy of the rare deluxe issue: the version of the first edition of this famous First Fleet book in which the plates were coloured by hand. Especially in this form, White's Journal is one of the most beautiful of Australian colour-plate books, and one of the most attractive, as well as one of the earliest, Australian bird books. In this very handsome copy, in a beautiful twentieth-century binding, the colouring is especially superb.

The book was an immediate success on publication, with subscribers alone accounting for seven hundred copies. It is a travel and ornithological classic by a medical voyager: as chief surgeon of the First Fleet, John White overcame serious medical problems in appalling conditions both on the voyage out and when the settlement was founded. He was a keen amateur naturalist: on originally joining the First Fleet he had begun to keep a journal in which he would later make notes about birds in the new colony. It was this manuscript which formed the nucleus of his journal. It also provided an interesting and valuable account of the voyage from London, with long, detailed accounts of the stops at Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and of the colonial voyages to Norfolk Island.

The natural history content makes White's particularly noteworthy amongst the First Fleet journals. When the convict artist Thomas Watling arrived in the colony in October 1792 he was assigned to White and in the next two years made many drawings of birds for him. It is possible that White himself had some skill as an artist and that he was responsible for the original sketches of some of the engravings here. Others of the engravings, drawn by leading natural history artists of the day such as Sarah Stone or Frederick Nodder, were based on actual specimens which had been sent to England, and which were on display in the windows of the publisher Debrett in a very successful attempt to drum up subscribers for the book.

White's interest in natural history continued until he left New South Wales in December 1794.

Provenance: Private collection (Tasmania).

Abbey 'Travel in Aquatint and Lithography 1770-1860', 605; Casey Wood, 626; Crittenden, 'A Bibliography of the First Fleet', 248; Davidson, 'A Book Collector's Notes', pp. 81-6; Ferguson, 97; Ford, 2495; Hill, 1858; Mathews, Supplement; Nissen, 4390; Wantrup, 17 (and see long discussion in text); Zimmer, 672.

Price (AUD): $17,500.00  other currencies Ref: #4504936

Condition Report