Lot 42
  • 42

Colnett, James

4,000 - 6,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • A Voyage to South Atlantic and round Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean, for the purpose of extending the spermaceti whale fisheries, and other objects of commerce, by ascertaining the ports, bays, harbours, and anchoring births, in certain islands and coasts in those seas. London: Printed for the author by W. Bennett, 1798
  • paper
FIRST EDITION, 4to (307 x 235mm.), WIDE MARGINS, engraved portrait, 3 plates and 6 folding maps, modern half cloth, uncut, slight browning/soiling/spotting to maps and plates, spine somewhat worn


Sabin 14546; Hill (2004) 338; Borba de Moraes p.193; Howes C2140; Wagner (Northwest), p.207; Graff 812; Streeter VI 3494

Catalogue Note

Colnett's voyage is one of the most important in the history of whaling. Colnett had served as a midshipman on the Resolution on Captain Cook's second voyage. The voyage described here was a joint naval and commercial undertaking, primarily for the benefit of whaling interests, headed by the company of Samuel Enderby, which sought out new bases now that the Spanish ports were effectively out of bounds (as a result of the infamous Nootka Sound Incident, during which Colnett had been arrested by the Spanish in 1789) and that the Cape of Good Hope and St Helena were so distant from the new grounds in the Pacific. The main importance of this voyage, aboard the Rattler, "lies in the fact that it pointed to the first sustained attempt to exploit the commercial possibilities of the Pacific in the 20 years after Cook's death" (D. Mackay, In the Wake of Cook, 1985, p.51).

The Nootka Sound Affair of July 1789 is mentioned in footnotes at pp.96-102: "the ship he then commanded was treacherously taken over at Nootka Sound by the Spanish naval commander Don Martinez, and Colnett and his crew were imprisoned for some months at the Mexican port of San Bias" (Streeter).