Captain Cook and the Pacific from Hordern House
Cook's Pacific Legacy from Hordern House.
By Michael Stillman
Hordern House has issued a catalogue of Captain James Cook and His Pacific Legacy. This beautiful and detailed catalogue contains books, documents and art pertaining to Cook's three famed voyages, and the islands and other places he visited. Additionally, there are several Cook-related bibliographies and auction catalogues from Cook collection sales. Hodern House's catalogue is a must for those who collect Cook or Pacific voyages.
Captain James Cook commanded three voyages to the southern Pacific, with his notable finds centered around Australia and Antarctica, but reaching as far as the Pacific coast of North America, and notably Hawaii, where Cook was killed by natives. He is also noted for finding a preventative for scurvy, which killed so many sailors in that era, and the fact that so few of his men died on his voyages, though he was not so lucky. While Cook was an Englishman and hero in his country, it is not surprising to find so much Cook material being offered by this Australian bookseller, since much of his activity was centered around this land down under. Here are some items being offered by Hordern House.
Cook's first voyage was commissioned by the Royal Society to observe the transit of Venus across the sun, best viewed from the Pacific. These observations could be used to calculate the size of the solar system. However, what was more notable about the voyage was the first observations of the eastern coast of Australia, and the botanical specimens collected at Botany Bay. When Cook returned home in July of 1771, he was required to turn over his Monthly Muster Books, along with various papers of the five men who died on the voyage and "reports of Surveys." Item 1 is the cover letter Cook wrote on the day of his return presenting these items, signed and dated by Captain James Cook. Priced at AU $185,000 (Australian dollars, or approximate equivalent in U.S. dollars of $157,185).
The first account of Cook's first voyage came not from Cook or the official report, but from the title A Journal of a Voyage round the World in His majesty's Ship Endeavour... No author is listed, but it is generally attributed to James Magra, a sailor, and not one of Cook's favorites. Cook described the New York loyalist Magra as the type a ship could do without, "or to speake more planer good for nothing..." This book was published two months after Cook's return, and two years ahead of the official account. It was published anonymously as no participants were supposed to write about the journey until after the official report was released. This is the first state of this book, with a dedication to voyage naturalists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander. This was evidently intended to make this unauthorized report sound more official, but the dedication was removed in the second state after the naturalists objected to being associated with it. Nevertheless, this is an important report, it being the first as well as an interesting narrative. Item 3. AU $85,000 (US $72,202).
Captain Cook and the Pacific from Hordern House
First American printed portrayal of Hawaii and death of Cook.
All of Cook's voyages suffered from having crewmen violate the rule of no publishing accounts before the official version. The first account of the second voyage, also published anonymously, but written by gunners' mate John Marra, was Journal of the Resolution's Voyage...by which the Non Existence of an Undiscovered Continent...is demonstrably proved. This book was the first printed first-hand account of penetrating the Antarctic circle, which Cook's expedition accomplished, showing that there was no massive southern continent, as many believed. Marra's book describes many events not included in the official account, including the dispute that kept Banks from participating in the second voyage. Item 11. AU $18,250 (US $15,501).
Item 21 is an extremely rare but important book, especially for Americana collectors - the 1781 New York edition of John Rickman's Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean... This is another one of the jump-the-gun accounts of a Cook voyage, this time his third. It was published anonymously, though the author has since been established to be Rickman, a lieutenant. It was originally published in London three years before the official account. Rickman's account, the first published in the English language of Cook's third voyage, differs from the official one in certain respects, particularly concerning the death of Cook. This edition is important because it is not only the first American book to describe the death of Cook, but the first American book to describe the Hawaiian Islands. The representation of the killing of Cook is the first depiction of Hawaii in a printed book. As to its rarity, this is the only known copy of an edition once thought to be lost. AU $112,500 (US $95,327).
Hordern House may be visited online at www.hordern.com, telephone (61-2) 9356 4411.