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Lot 88: LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY

Fine Books and Manuscripts Including Americana

by Sotheby's

June 16, 2005

New York, NY, USA

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Description: A Missionary Voyage to the Southern Pacific Ocean Performed in the Years 1796, 1797, 1798 in the Ship Duff Commanded by Captain William Wilson. Compiled from Journals of the Officers and the Missionaries... with... an Appendix... of the Natural and Civil State of Otaheite. London: S. Gosnell for T. Chapman, 1799

4to (11 1/2 x 9 3/8 in.; 292 x 237 mm). 7 engraved maps (5 folding) and 6 engraved plates; folding maps offsetting on themselves and to adjacent text, slight offsetting from other maps to text, plates foxed with severe offsetting to adjacent text. Contemporary tree calf, smooth spine gilt with anchor tool, green morocco lettering piece, sprinkled edges; joints rubbed, upper joint starting at head of spine, lower joint starting at foot of spine.

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES

Hill 2:184 (Gosnell edition); cf. Hill 1:478 (Gillet edition)
CATALOGUE NOTE

First edition, the Gosnell issue. There were two simultaneous and identical printings of the work, one being the present copy and the other printed for Chapman by T. Gillet, but the list of subscribers in each is completely different. The preliminary discourse gives an account by Chief Pomarre and his wife Iddeah of the Bounty's initial 5-month visit to Tahiti, as well as those made after the mutiny. Christian returned to Tahiti from Tubuai for colonizing materials, chiefly livestock. He told Pomarre that he had met with Captain Cook (Bligh had ordered the crew to keep mum about Cook's death), who had ordered the ship back to Tahiti for all the livestock that could be spared, in order to form a settlement at a place which Captain Bligh (who had passed himself off as Cook's son to the Tahitians) discovered in his course toward the Friendly Islands. The inhabitants were so extraordinarily obliging that when the Bounty unmoored on 16 June 1789, she was carrying 460 hogs, 50 goats, a bull and cow, and "great quantities of fowls, dogs, and cats." Having met with hostile natives on Tubuai, the Bounty would return for the last time to Tahiti on 22 September 1789. Sixteen of the ship's company?both loyalists and mutineers?remained on Tahiti, having decided to take their chances of discovery by British naval vessels. Christian cut the ship's cable suddenly in the middle of the night and sailed away with thirty-five islanders (according to this account but it was actually about twenty-five) never to return to Tahiti or to be heard of there again. "His professed design was to settle in some uninhabited island, out of the usual tracks of European ships." They arrived 15 January 1790 at Pitcairn, an isolated volcanic island 1,350 miles southeast of Tahiti. It was named after British midshipman Robert Pitcairn, who first sighted the island on 2 July 1767. Its location had been incorrectly charted by the explorer Carteret, who missed the mark by 200 miles, making it the ideal refuge for the mutineers. En route for Tahiti in the Pandora, Captain Edward Edwards would pass Pitcairn on 17 March 1791, not seeing it over the horizon. He arrived at Tahiti on 23 March, and took fourteen men of the Bounty crew prisoner. The preliminary discourse also mentions that when midshipman George Stewart, who was arrested immediately upon boarding the Pandora, his wife was afflicted "to such a degree as to bring on a decline that terminated in her death." Stewart himself was killed when the Pandora foundered off the Great Barrier Reef the night of 29 August 1791.

William Wilson and James Morrison (a reprieved Bounty mutineer) are the co-authors of the book, which includes their valuable details about Tahiti, the Fiji Islands, Tonga, and the Marquesas as well as accounts of their discovery of the islands?namely, Timoe, Mangareva, Pukarua in the Tuamoto Archipelago; Ongea and Fulanga Islands, Vanua Mbalavu, and Satawal, Lamotrek, Elato, Ifalik, and Woleai Atolls in the Western Carolines.

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