Polar Books Catalogue

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    Reference 1338 (1042)
    Category Antarctic;
    Author Charles Wilkes
    Publishing Information London: Wiley and Putman,1845.
    Description Wiley and Putman issue; Printed by C. Sherman, Philadelphia, U.S.A., From the plates of the 1st issue. Rosove 353.B4. Quarto 4to (11" tall), Vol I, lx, 434pp, [26pp, publishers' advertisements] 8 engravings, including frontipiece, 15 vignettes & 68 woodcuts in text, 1 double-page copper engraved map. Dark brown cloth, decorated in blind with gilt titling on spine and gilt eagle on front cover. Jan09. The Wilkes expedition was the first United States scientific expedition by sea, working mainly in the Pacific Ocean. Wilkes sailed along the Antarctic continent and throughout the islands of the South Pacific, visited the Hawaiian Islands in 1840, and explored the Northwest Coast of America in 1841. The expedition was made up of a number of notable American scientists, and their botanical, natural history and geological findings are included. Charles Wilkes (1798-1877) "entered the United States Navy as a midshipman in 1818, and became a lieutenant in 1826. In 1830, he was placed in charge of the division of instruments and charts, and in 1838 was appointed to command an exploring and surveying expedition in the Southern Seas, authorized by Congress in 1836. The expedition, including naturalists, botanists, a mineralogist, taxidermists, a philologist, among others was carried by the sloops-of-war 'Vincennes' and 'Peacock,' the brig 'Porpoise,' the storeship 'Relief' and two tenders. Leaving Hampton Roads on the 18th of August 1838, it stopped at Madeira and Rio de Janeiro; visited Tierra del Fuego, Chile, Peru, the Paumotu group of the Low Archipelago, the Samoan islands and New South Wales; from Sydney sailed into the Antarctic Ocean in December 1839 and reported the discovery of an Antarctic continent west of the Balleny islands; visited the Fiji and the Hawaiian islands in 1840, explored the west coast of the United States, including the Columbia river, San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento river, in 1841, and returned by way of the Philippine islands, the Sulu archipelago, Borneo, Singapore, Polynesia and the Cape of Good Hope, reaching New York on the 10th of June 1842. He was court-martialed on his return and acquitted on all charges except that of illegally punishing men in his squadron. For a short time he was attached to the Coast Survey, but from 1844 to 1861 he was chiefly engaged in preparing the report of the expedition (Encyclopedia Britannica Eleventh Edition). Wilkes's Narrative "would also have an impact on some of America's most important and influential writers. James Fenimore Cooper, an old family friend of the Wilkes's, would integrate information from the Narrative into at least two of his sea novels. Herman Melville would purchase his own copy of Wilkes's book, and scholars have found traces of the U.S. Exploring Expedition throughout his masterpiece Moby-Dick. Melville appears to have been most taken with the book's illustrations. For example, his description of Ishmael's Polynesian companion Queequeg has been attributed to an engraving of a tattooed Maori chief in Volume 2. In an age before the widespread use of photography, the pages of the Narrative provided a visual link with the exotic world of the South Pacific (as well as Antarctica and the Pacific Northwest) that no other American book could match" (Nathaniel Philbrick, "The Scientific Legacy of the U.S. Exploring Expedition", part of The United States Exploring Exhibition, 1830-1842, an online exhibition by Smithsonian Institution Libraries (Washington, D.C.: 2004)). Blackie & Son Limited Private Library bookplate on verso front cover. Covers very worn and frail. Spine detaching and missing a piece but internally very clean. MISSING 1 of the 15 plates, (Estroza Pass, Madeira) but otherwise all illustrations as called for. Very Good.
    Price £150.00
    Keywords Antarctic, wildlife, polar, qpolarq S1-Ant
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