Cook’s Voyages: An Account of the Voyages Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere; South Pole and Round the World; A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean and the Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. The First, Second and Third Voyages.

"THE STUDY OF COOK IS THE ILLUMINATION OF ALL DISCOVERY": first edition complete set of Cook’s Voyages

Cook’s Voyages: An Account of the Voyages Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere; South Pole and Round the World; A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean and the Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. The First, Second and Third Voyages.

HAWKESWORTH, John [Captain James Cook].


Item Number: 112342

London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1773, 1777, 1784.

Rare first edition set of the official accounts of Captain James Cook’s voyages, “the foundation of modern knowledge of the Pacific and a cornerstone of the literature of travel and exploration” (Beddie 648, 1216, 1543; Hill 782, 358, 361). Nine volumes altogether. Quarto, bound in full calf with morocco spine labels, elaborate gilt titles to the spine, front and rear panels, raised bands. Large folio atlas bound in the same manner. The First Voyage is comprised of three volumes edited by John Hawkesworth. “An Account of the Voyages… for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere… In the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour.” The Second Voyage includes two volumes, published in 1777: “A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World. Performed in His Majesty’s Ships Resolution and Adventure, In the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775”. First edition. Portrait frontispiece and 63 plates and charts (several folding or double-page). The Third Voyage was published in 1784: “A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Undertaken, by the command of His Majesty, for making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. To determine The Position and Extent of the West Side of North America; its Distance from Asia; and the Practicability of a Northern Passage to Europe.” Four volumes, first edition. The text with 24 plates and charts as called for, with two large folding maps and 61 plates. An exceptional set.

Captain Cook’s Voyages are an iconic symbol of discovery and served not only to contribute to many diverse fields of knowledge, but also to inspire many who followed after him. "He was really the first scientific navigator" (Hill) and the only explorer during this time to lead three circumnavigations. The knowledge accumulated during these explorations greatly expanded the awareness of the world’s geography, and his writings, maps, and drawings significantly aided in future navigations, making sea travel much more certain and educating the general public. Cook’s first voyage sailed from England in 1768, rounded Cape Horn and continued westward to arrive in Tahiiti in April of 1769, where the Royal Society had engaged Cook to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun. He then sailed to New Zealand, mapping the complete coastline and then travelling to Australia, where his expedition became the first recorded Europeans to encounter the eastern coastline. The voyage was fraught with many perils, including being nearly ship-wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef and losing many of the crew to malaria in modern day Indonesia, but they were able to finally sail past the Cape of Good Hope and return to England in 1771. Cook’s second voyage took place between 1772-1775, with a mission to search for the hypothetical Terra Australis. 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 Cook’s third voyage (1776-79), his aim was to search for the North-West Passage through the American continent. He charted the American west coast from Northern California through the Bering Straight. "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" (Eberstadt). On this voyage, he also discovered the Hawaiian Islands, which he named the Sandwich Islands. Cook died during this third voyage on the Hawaiian islands. With the publication of the first two voyages, and his dramatic death in Hawaii, James Cook became a national hero. So eagerly awaited was his account of the third voyage, that it was sold out a few days after publication. Among his accomplishments Cook discovered New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, the Isle of Pines, Sandwich Land (Hawaii) and rediscovered and charted numerous other lands. He was the first to survey New Zealand where he spent six months. He was also a pioneer in regard to the health of his men. On his second voyage, Cook lost only one man out of 118 in a voyage of more than 1000 days, one of the first to conquer scurvy. As a commander, an observer and a practical physician, his merits were equally great. He won the affection of those who served under him by sympathy, kindness and unselfish care of others, which were as noteworthy as his gifts of discovery and intellect.

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