Pacific Voyages and Other Historical Works from Hordern House
By Michael Stillman
Hordern House has released another of its fine catalogues of voyages and other historical items. The latest is titled A selection of rare books, manuscripts and other historical items. Hodern House is located in Sydney, Australia, so naturally there is much on the sixth continent. However, that is hardly an exclusive, as many of the explorations that touched Australia also reached many other areas of the world. Hordern House's catalogues will appeal to anyone who collects voyages and other explorations, particularly in the Pacific. Here are a few of the items they now have available.
Item 31 is one of the exceedingly rare, important early works pertaining to the discovery of Australia and the search for a southern continent. It is a Memorial by Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, published in 1611 in Madrid. Quiros undertook two voyages on behalf of Spain in the early 1600s. He was in search of the fabled southern continent, but in reality he never found that nor Australia. He found some South Pacific Islands. On his first trip, he got as far as the Solomon Islands; the second took him to Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides). One of those islands on his second trip he called "Austrialia del Espiritu Santo," which he thought was the tip of the southern continent. He claimed the vast area he thought he found for Spain, and returned, seeking financing for further explorations. His Memorial was an attempt to garner additional financing, but Quiros was not successful. Priced at AU $295,000 (Australian dollars, or US equivalent of $225,877).
By the end of the 17th century, what is today Australia had been claimed by the Dutch when William Dampier became the first Englishman to land on the continent. In 1697, he published item 9, A New Voyage Round the World. In it, he writes, "New Holland is a very large tract of Land. It is not yet determined whether it is an Island or a main Continent; but I am certain it joyns neither to Asia, Africa, nor America..." It would be almost another century before Cook would determine it was not part of some massive southern continent, as long believed. Dampier anchored for two months off the west coast of Australia, and he writes about both natural features and the native people of the area. AU $34,500 (US $26,407).
Captain James Cook put an end to speculation about a southern continent on his second voyage, but he would make one last trip to the Pacific in 1776. On this third trip he discovered the Hawaiian Islands, reached the west coast of North America, but on a return stop in Hawaii, he was killed by natives. Item 6 is the official account of his last voyage, A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. This copy carries the provenance of another famed explorer, James Bruce. Bruce was a British explorer who attempted to find the source of the Nile. In 1770, he was the first European to reach the source of the Blue Nile, which he believed to be the Nile of the ancients, though most people consider the real source to be that of the larger White Nile, not discovered until almost a century later. AU $32,000 (US $24,481).