Item #125681 Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842…. Charles Wilkes.
Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842…
Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842…
Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842…
Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842…

Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842…

1845. Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard, 1845.

6 vls. in 5, including atlas. With 64 steel-engraved plates; text illustrations engraved in steel & wood; 9 double-page copper-engraved maps; atlas with 5 large folding copper-engraved maps & charts, 1 hand-colored. Contemporary half green pebbled morocco, marbled boards, gilt-lettered backstrips, a fine set.

§ The best public edition

1000 sets were printed; the massive official American expedition, one of the three great Antarctic voyages of the 1840s. The explorations of Wilkes along with the English under Ross and the French under Dumont d’Urville form the basis for today’s territorial claims, and together established the knowledge of the frozen continent on which all subsequent expeditions built.

Among the great achievements of the Wilkes expedition was the detailed study of the flora and fauna of the many countries visited, the scientists making frequent and long excursions into the interiors. The expedition explored the South Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand, the Hawaiian Islands, the Northwest Coast, California, Singapore, the Cape of Good Hope and St. Helena, whilst the greatest achievement was the expedition into the Antarctic in the winter of 1839-40. Wilkes was the first to announce the existence of an Antarctic continent.

Wilkes’s six ships ranged from Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Peru, to Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Singapore. Two of its most notable achievements were the extensive survey of the American Northwest coast and the exploration of some 1500 miles of the Antarctic coast, “thereby proving the existence of the seventh continent. Equally important, the Expedition collected and described natural history specimens from all parts of the globe - specimens that eventually came to the fledgling Smithsonian Institution, making it the National Museum of the United States. In a wider sense, the Expedition led to the emergence of the United States as a naval and scientific power with worldwide interests…”. (‘Magnificent Voyagers. The U.S. Exploring Expedition’, ed. H.J. Viola and C. Margolis, Smithsonian Institution, 1985, p.9).

Only 1000 copies of this were printed; it was preceded by the very rare quarto official and unofficial editions, which were printed in 100 and 150 copies respectively (many of which were subsequently destroyed) and are today almost unknown on the market. Later editions, including the second 1845 octavo edition, are smaller in size, are generally of inferior quality and do not include the fine steel-engravings found here. this is thus the much preferred edition for the collector of Antarctic material.

Bibliography: Haskell, 2B & 17B (atlas); Renard, 1697; Rosove, 353.B1.a; Spence, 1262. Reese, Best of the West, 85. Item #125681

Price: $7,400.00

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