Considered “really the first scientific navigator,” Captain James Cook made invaluable contributions to European knowledge of the Pacific Ocean, which he sailed for 12 years in 3 voyages. His accomplishments include the first recorded contact with Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, as well as the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. Within these achievements, however, are a multitude of triumphs, tragedies, and fascinating artifacts, all captured within the very rare first edition of Captain Cook’s Voyages.
In Captain Cook’s Voyages, the explorer first sets sail out of England in 1768. Before heading to New Zealand and becoming the first to map the entire country’s coastline, the captain anchored in Tahiti, where he watched with the Royal Society the small black disk of Venus travel across the Sun. When Cook finally reached Australia, making first recorded European contact with the continent, he and his crew were nearly shipwrecked by the Great Barrier Reef.
Many little known facts come up in Captain Cook’s Voyages, some bewildering, others downright fascinating. For example, while the captain did lose many of his crew to malaria in modern day Indonesia, he was also accredited with not having lost any members of his crew to scurvy, an unusual feat for that time period. Another of these facts comes up in Cooks second voyage:
Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle for the first time in history and thought he disproved the existence of the “Great Southern Continent”. He actually almost reached Antarctica on one occasion, but then turned towards Tahiti for supplies.
In Captain Cook’s third voyage, his goal was to reach the west coast of the American continent. He succeeded in doing so, charting the west coast of America from Northern California down to the Bering Strait.
Cook was the first navigator to accurately map the coast, and, by carrying away a collection of furs, he introduced the fur trade to the English and American traders, whose subsequent expeditions were based upon his discoveries… no other contemporaneously printed source narrative is of comparable importance.
Continuing on his voyage, Captain Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands, which he named the Sandwich Islands. It was here that Cook suffered a dramatic death, becoming a national hero. The uniformly bound set of his voyages documents a series of real life adventures and discoveries that would influence future explorers and eventually change the way we look at the world.
We have an amazingly rare, complete set of all nine volumes of Cook’s Voyages by Captain James Cook. This uniformly bound set is comprised of all first editions and is a true piece of history. Learn more about it here.