Item #5000614 A complete set of the three official voyage accounts. Captain James COOK.
A complete set of the three official voyage accounts.
A complete set of the three official voyage accounts.
A complete set of the three official voyage accounts.

A complete set of the three official voyage accounts.

London: Strahan & Cadell; Strahan & Cadell; H. Hughs for Nicol & Cadell, 1773/1777/1785.

Together eight volumes, quarto, and folio atlas; a good set in old half calf and marbled boards, double labels.

Cook's three voyages: a complete set of the official accounts in nine volumes

The full series of the official narratives of Cook's voyages - the cornerstone of any collection of books relating to Australia or the Pacific. Each of the three narratives is illustrated with marvellous engravings based on the work of the official artists on the voyages, including Parkinson, Hodges, and Webber, and the series stands as the great monument to Cook's achievements.

The full series of the official narratives of Cook's voyages - the cornerstone of any collection of books relating to Australia or the Pacific. Each of the three narratives is illustrated with marvellous engravings based on the work of the official artists on the voyages, including Parkinson, Hodges, and Webber, and the series stands as the great monument to Cook's achievements.

These were the best-sellers of the second half of the eighteenth century; very expensive when published, the first editions were sold out within a few days of publication. Their popularity meant that many copies were almost literally read to pieces; as a result, good uniform sets of the voyages are fairly scarce.

This set comprises the first edition of the first voyage in its first issue form; the unchanged second edition of the second voyage; and the preferred second edition of the third voyage. Sets of the voyages are seen in many combinations of editions: this particular combination, generally regarded as a good way to have the set, is one of those seen with some regularity.

The set is made up as follows:

First voyage

HAWKESWORTH, John. An Account of the Voyages… for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere…

Three volumes, quarto, 51 engraved plates and maps, many folding. London, Strahan and Cadell, 1773.

First edition, first issue, before printing of the chart of the Streights of Magellan and the "Directions for Placing the Cuts".

Cook's great first voyage into the Pacific during the course of which he discovered and charted the entire east coast of Australia, naming it New South Wales. This is in fact a compendium of four major voyage accounts to the Pacific which culminates with that of Cook's first voyage, which fills two of the three large volumes, giving an enthralling account of his exploration of Tahiti, New Zealand and the east coast of Australia. The work was edited by the professional writer John Hawkesworth, who was given the original journals of Captains Byron, Wallis, Carteret and Cook, as well as the private journal of Joseph Banks, in order to prepare it for publication, a task which took almost two years. Cook himself was in the middle of his second voyage when it was finally published in London to widespread enthusiasm on 9 June 1773 (Cook was actually in Cook Strait, New Zealand at the time, having just left Queen Charlotte Sound).

Hawkesworth's involvement in the book was controversial, and much ink has been spilt on the subject of his fitness for the task (the dilettante man of letters Horace Walpole is known to have wittily criticised Cook's enthusiasm for the fishermen of 40 islands, Samuel Johnson an apparent fixation with exotic insects, while indignant letters to contemporary editors attacked everything from Hawkesworth's apparent lasciviousness to his godlessness), but these reactions cannot distract from the fascinating story, the moments of early contact, and the great characters such as Banks or the Tahitian priest Tupaia. The plates, charts and views are magnificent, and most famously include the first astonishing engraving of a kangaroo, charts of New Zealand and the east coast of Australia, and the moving depiction of the Endeavour, hauled on shore just north of Cape Tribulation on the north Queensland coast to fix the hole that nearly sent them to the bottom.

Beddie, 648; Hill, 782; Holmes, 5n; Kroepelien, 535.

Second Voyage

COOK, James. A Voyage towards the South Pole, and Round the World…

Two volumes, quarto, 64 engraved plates and maps, many folding. London, Strahan and Cadell, 1777.

Second edition: the official account of Cook's great second voyage, prepared for publication by the navigator himself. The superb engravings, here in fine black impressions, are mostly the work of Hodges whose recording of the voyage resulted also in a famous series of oil-paintings. This was the second of four London editions of the full work (there would be many abridgments and translations). Unhappy with Hawkesworth's rendering of his first voyage, Cook was determined that the second would not be similarly treated: although he had the editorial help of Dr John Douglas this 'is certainly Cook's book. There were to be no more Hawkesworths. "The Journal of my late voyage", writes Cook to his friend Commodore Wilson at Great Ayton, "will be published in the course of next winter, and I am to have the sole advantage of sale. It will want those flourishes which Dr Hawkesworth gave the other, but it will be illustrated and ornamented with about sixty copper plates, which I am of opinion, will exceed every thing that has been done in a work of this kind As to the Journal, it must speak for itself. I can only say that it is my own narrative, and as it was written during the voyage" ' (Beaglehole). The two resulting quarto volumes, with their dramatic illustrations after the expedition's official artist, William Hodges, 'would have given pleasure to any author', but they were never seen by Cook, who had embarked on his fatal last voyage by the time they appeared.

This was historically the most important of Cook's three voyages. For the first time the Antarctic circle was crossed when, at the beginning of the voyage, Cook cruised as far south as possible, round the edge of the Antarctic ice. His belief in the existence of a land-mass in the southern ice ring was eventually proved by the nineteenth-century explorers. In the Pacific, he visited New Zealand again, and either discovered or revisited many of the islands, including New Caledonia, Palmerston and Norfolk Islands, Easter Island, the Marquesas, New Hebrides, Tonga, the South Sandwich Islands and South Georgia.

Between February and May 1773, the two ships separated, and Furneaux, commander of the Adventure, supplied Cook with the narrative of his experiences in the Adventure printed here: they called at Adventure Bay in Van Diemen's Land, and sailed up the east coast "intending to coast it up along shore, till we should fall in with the land seen by Captain Cook, and discover whether Van Diemen's Land joins with New Holland". Before they stood away for New Zealand, Furneaux had come to the opinion that "there is no straits between New Holland and Van Diemen's Land, but a very deep bay…".

Beddie, 1216; Hill, 358; Holmes, 24; O'Reilly-Reitman, 390; Printing and the Mind of Man, 223.

Third Voyage

COOK, James and James KING. A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Undertaken by Command of his Majesty, for making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere…

Three volumes, quarto, with 24 engraved maps and coastal profiles; with the separate folio atlas, containing two charts and 62 engraved plates. London, H. Hughs for Nicol and Cadell, 1785.

The official artist on the voyage was John Webber, and his romantic views of the islands of the Pacific published here remain the most evocative portrayals of the islands - helping to create the notion of an island paradise that so affected the European public eagerly reading the voyages of discovery being published in the eighteenth century.

This is an example of the second edition, which is preferred to the first edition for a number of reasons. The most obvious difference is the use on the title-pages of the text volumes of engraved vignettes of the Royal Society Medal (in volumes 1 and 2) and of an oval medallion portrait of Captain King (in volume 3). The medal was awarded to Cook posthumously by the Royal Society in 1784, shortly after publication of the first edition of this book.

This second quarto edition was printed by H. Hughs - rather than W. and A. Strahan who had printed the first edition - with the wording of the title-pages slightly modified and the text itself entirely re-set. As Forbes points out, the second edition has always been "considered typographically superior to the first edition. That this was a contemporary opinion is borne out by a presentation inscription in a set (Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales) from Isaac Smith (Mrs. Cook's relative, and on her behalf) addressed to Mrs. Cook's physician, Doctor Elliotson: "Clapham, 5 May 1821. I am desired by Mrs Cook… to request your acceptance of the 4 books sent herewith being her Husbands last Voyage round the World, as a mark of her respect… the letter press of the second edition being much superior to the first both in paper & letter press…". It is interesting to note that the presentation on behalf of Cook's widow was made some 35 years after publication and even then Mrs. Cook chose to give a copy of the second rather than the first printing, let alone the third or subsequent editions.

The full story of the voyage, and Cook's eventual murder while revisiting the Hawaiian Islands, was so eagerly awaited by the English public that the entire first edition had sold out, at the then huge price of four pounds fourteen shillings and sixpence, within three days and copies were soon changing hands at up to ten guineas. King George III's copy of the official account, preserved in the British Library, is also an example of this second edition.

Beddie, 1552; Forbes, 'Hawaiian National Bibliography', 85; Hawaii One Hundred, 5; Hill, 361; Holmes, 47n; O'Reilly-Reitman, 434.

Provenance: Private collection (Sydney).

Condition Report: In generally very good condition with the inevitable odd spot or thumbmark; chart (Friendly Islands) at p.225 in volume 1 of the third voyage and the folding plate of coastal profiles at p.82 both with water stains.

Price (AUD): $36,000.00

US$23,977.89   Other currencies

Ref: #5000614

Condition Report