2 BEECHEY, F..W. Narrative of a voyage to the Pacific 106


Description: First edition of Beechey's pacific voyage, with detailed descriptions of San Francisco

BEECHEY, Frederick William.
Narrative of a voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait, to co-operate with the Polar Expeditions: performed in His Majesty's ship Blossom, under the command of Captain F.W. Beechey, ... in the years 1825, 26,27,28.

London, Henry Colburn, Richard Bentley (back of vol. 2 title-page: printed by Thomas Davison), 1831. 2 volumes. 4to. Modern sprinkled half calf, gold-tooled spines with red and green morocco labels, Spanish-marbled sides and endpapers. With 3 engraved maps (2 folding) , 23 full-page plates and views (14 steel-engraved, 5 aquatint and 4 lithographed), and 1 engraved illustration in the text. With errata slip inserted after title-page of vol. 2.
XXI, [3], 392; VII, [1], [393]-742 pp.

First edition of Beechey's account of his celebrated Pacific voyage. It "is one of the most valuable of modern voyages and relates extensive visits to Pitcairn Island, Easter Island, the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Society Islands, the Mangareva (Gambier) Islands, and Tahiti, Alaska, Hawaii, Macao, Okinawa, and the coast of California" (Hill).
Frederick William Beechey (1796-1856), English naval officer and hydrographer, was appointed to command the Blossom and to sail to the Bering Strait to assist Edward Parry and John Franklin in their third attempt to find a northwest passage. Beechey rounded Cape Horn and, after calling at Concepcion and Valparaiso, proceeded to Easter Island and Pitcairn Island, where he met the last survivor of the mutineers of the Bounty, John Adams. Sailing further into the Pacific he visited the Tuamotu Archipelago, (discovering Melville, Cockburn, Byam Martin, Croker and Barrow Islands), Tahiti and Hawaii. He then proceeded to Kamchatka and through Bering Strait to Chamisso Island (Alaska), where he waited in vain for Franklin. In the winter and spring of 1826/27 he visited California, Hawaii, Macao, the Ryukyu Islands (Japan) and the Philippines, returning to Kamchatka in the summer 1827. Worsening weather in the next winter forced him once again to San Francisco. In Mexico he resupplied for the voyage home, reaching London in October 1828.
The account includes valuable descriptions of San Francisco and Monterey before the American conquest, with many details regarding the mission among the indigenous Americans.
The plates include a portrait of John Adams, several portraits of indigenous Alaskans (Eskimos), views of the Pictairn Islands, Gambier Islands and Ryukyu Islands (Loo Choo), and several illustrations of fossils. Most of the steel engravings were executed by Edward Finden after drawings by William Smyth. Some illustrations were drawn by Beechey himself and others his brother Richard B. Beechey. The maps show the route of the Blossom, the Gambier Islands and the northwest coast of America from Point Rodney to Point Barrow. The account concludes with an extensive appendix, including remarks on fossils, a vocabulary of the language of the western Alaskan Eskimos (he presents it with a modest introduction, indicating where the words were found and noting both relations and differences between the eastern and western languages: his vocabulary may mix Inuit and Yupik forms), tables of geographical positions, and meteorological observations (including 5 pages on the aurora borealis).
Slightly browned and foxed, some tears and smudges, marginal restorations and reinforcement in a view leaves, but still in good condition. A classic well-illustrated account of a Pacific voyage.
Forbes 772; Hill 93; Howes B309; Judd 16; O'Reilly & Reitman 849; Sabin 4347; cf. Alt Japan Kat. 180 (German ed.); not in Abbey, Travel; Cordier, Japonica.
  • Number: 1060579
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum