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
The preferred large-paper Admiralty issue of Beechey’s famous account, including a description of California.
“One of the most valuable of modern voyages, containing a most interesting visit to Pitcairn Island, the coast of California, etc.” (Sabin)
This narrative offers an extensive account of exploration of the Pacific Northwest coast from Alaska to California, including important descriptions of Alaskan Eskimos, Monterey, San Francisco and several Pacific islands, including Hawaii.
In 1825, Frederick William Beechey was given command of HMS Blossom, assigned to sail around Cape Horn to the Bering Strait, where he was to provide support for two expeditions seeking the Northwest Passage–one under the command of William Parry and the other under the command of John Franklin. Neither Parry nor Franklin completed their journey. Franklin’s journey got trapped near Beechey Island, which Beechey himself had named for his father, when serving as a Lieutenant under William Parry, in Parry’s 1819 voyage through the Parry Strait.
In his journey, Beechey explored the west coast of North America extensively, as well as many Pacific Islands. His travelogue discussed his voyages in detail.
It includes descriptions of California, including visits to Monterey and two visits to San Francisco, at that time a Mexican possession with two main establishments, the Mission San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores), and the Presidio fort near the tip of the peninsula. (The settlement of Yerba Buena, which would become the downtown of today’s San Francisco, would not be established until 1835.)
His travelogue also includes descriptions of the Eskimos he met, as well as his visits to the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Society Islands and Tahiti, Alaska, Hawaii, Macao, Okinawa, and to Pitcairn Island, where he met the last survivor of the mutiny on the HMS Bounty, John Adams, who told Beechey his story, which Beechey recorded.
Provenance: High Latitude, Bainbridge Island; Martin Greene Library (Christie’s Dec. 2017).
Two volumes, quarto (27 x 21 cm). 3 maps, 2 of which are folding, and 23 engraved and lithographed plates (foxing as usual, without half-titles or ads). Later blue half morocco, spine gilt in compartments, top edges gilt (spines browned and rubbed, repaired chip to vol. 1).
There were 3 printings of Beechey's Narrative in 1831; this first edition was in 2 quarto volumes was then reprinted in octavo, followed by a "New Edition" which did not reprint all of the scientific notes of the preceding printings.