London: Printed for the author, by W. Bennett, 1798. iv,[iii]-vi,xviii,179pp. Stipple-engraved portrait frontispiece of the dedicatee, Sir Philip Stephens, by J. Collyer after William Beechey; six folding engraved maps (one with a small flap in facsimile), plate of sperm whale, two plates of coastal profiles. Quarto. Early calf, elaborately gilt, rebacked to style, leather label. Very good. Item #WRCAM40590B
This account was privately printed for subscription and is one of the rarest of Pacific voyage narratives. It offers a full description of Colnett's second Pacific voyage in the Rattler, during which he opened up the South Pacific sperm-whale fields and made two visits to the Galapagos islands. He describes the voyage out via Rio de Janeiro, around Cape Horn, along the coasts of South America and Mexico, and into the Gulf of California. He did not stop at Hawaii on this visit, although the lengthy preface contains references to his first voyage, during which he had an extended stay in Hawaiian waters during the winter of 1787-88. Colnett's ship, Rattler, a Royal Navy sloop, was purchased from the Admiralty and altered to serve as a whaler. The voyage lasted from January 1793 until October 1794. In addition to the informative and lively text, this work is remarkable for the quality of the maps and plates. The folding plate within the text shows a diagram of a sperm whale, complete with scale and labeled segments, the two folding plates at the rear show coastal profiles of six different locations. The large folding maps show the islands of Felix and Ambrose (on one map), the Pacific Coast of the Americas as far as California (one map), and individual maps of the islands of Revillagigedo, Cocos, the Galapagos, and Quibo. Colnett first visited the Pacific as a midshipman on Cook's second voyage. Later he made several commercial voyages to the Northwest Coast, where in 1789 his brush with the Spanish commander at Nootka Sound instigated the Nootka Controversy. An account of that incident is also given herein, as is his meeting with the Spanish commander in the Sandwich Islands. "This narrative is particularly important for the part Colnett played in the dispute between England and Spain over claims to the Northwest" - Forbes. The Streeter copy sold for $950 to an order bidder in 1969. At some point it was acquired by Frank Streeter, and sold in his sale in 2007 for $15,600. In 2017 it appeared in the catalogue of a Canadian dealer, priced $18,240. HILL 338. HOWES C604, "b." SABIN 14546. FORBES 280. STRATHERN 120. STREETER SALE 3494. COWAN I, p.52.