A voyage to the South Atlantic and round Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean,


A voyage to the South Atlantic and round Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean,
for the purpose of extending the spermaceti whale fisheries, and other objects of commerce, by ascertaining the ports, bays, harbours, and anchoring births, in certain islands and coasts in those seas at which the ships of the British merchants might be refitted. Undertaken and performed by Captain James Colnett, of the Royal Navy, in the ship Rattler.
London, Printed for the Author, by W. Bennett, Marsham Street, Westminster. Sold by A. Arrowsmith, Charles Street, Soho; Stockdale, Piccadilly; Edgerton, Charing Cross; Elmsly, Strand; and White, Fleet Street, 1798.

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A voyage to the South Atlantic and round Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean,


A wide-margined copy of one of the most important voyages history of whaling, with great provenance.

Colnett had served as a midshipman on the Resolution on Captain Cook’s second voyage. The voyage described here was a joint naval and commercial undertaking, primarily for the benefit of whaling interests, headed by the company of Samuel Enderby, which sought out new bases now that the Spanish ports were effectively out of bounds (as a result of the infamous Nootka Sound Incident, during which Colnett had been arrested by the Spanish in 1789) and that the Cape of Good Hope and St Helena were so distant from the new grounds in the Pacific. The main importance of this voyage, aboard the Rattler, ‘lies in the fact that it pointed to the first sustained attempt to exploit the commercial possibilities of the Pacific in the 20 years after Cook’s death’ (D. Mackay, In the Wake of Cook, 1985, p.51). The Nootka Sound Affair of July 1789 is mentioned in footnotes at pp.96-102: ‘the ship he then commanded was treacherously taken over at Nootka Sound by the Spanish naval commander Don Martinez, and Colnett and his crew were imprisoned for some months at the Mexican port of San Bias’ (Streeter).


First edititon. 4to (29 x 23 cm.), iv, iii-vi, xviii, 180pp., engraved portrait, 6 folding maps, 3 plates, contenporary half calf, marbled boards, expertly rebacked, later endpapers, a very good copy.

Provenance: Earl of Crawford (Bibliotheca Lindesiana bookplate); Sidney Spence (bibliographer, his stamp); Frederick E. Ellis, Shaw Island (bookplate).


Sabin 14546; Hill (2004), 338; Borba de Moraes p193; Howes C2140; Wagner (Northwest), p207; Graff 812; Streeter VI, 3494.


Stock ID: 98467