Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2008 Issue

A Stunning Captain James Cook Catalogue from Hordern House

Patuone

Carter's Death of Cook; Patuone - photo of man who met Cook.


While Cook's geographical, natural history, and native people discoveries are those for which he is best known, his most important one, at least for sailors at the time, was of a preventive for scurvy. Cook discovered that sauerkraut and a malt juice could prevent this dreaded disease that normally would take the lives of a great many sailors on long voyages. It was a major breakthrough for exploration. However, at the time his findings were being presented to the Royal Society, on November 30, 1776, Cook was off on his third voyage, so his report was presented by Sir John Pringle. Item 39 is Pringle's A Discourse upon some Late Improvements in the Health of Mariners. AU $64,000 (US $61,180).

Item 95 is a rare first imprint of George Carter's notable drawing of The Death of Captain James Cook... On the return trip of his third, and obviously, final voyage, Cook had a misunderstanding with usually more friendly Hawaiian natives and was killed. It was left to James King to return the voyage home and complete the official version of the final trip. Carter was not present at the death of Cook, so obviously there was some license with his depiction, but it reflects his understanding of what occurred. AU $28,750 (US $27,467).

Item 100 is a written account of the tragic event: A Narrative of the Death of Captain James Cook. Author David Samwell was an eyewitness to the terrible occurrence and a man who knew Cook well. In his account, Samwell attempts to dispel the rumor that a hasty temper by the Captain may have been a factor in his untimely death. This book was published in 1786, and it is one of the greatest rarities among Cook items. Price on request.

Item 16 is an unusual piece for a Cook collection, but there is a surprising connection. Published in 1876, and written by Charles Oliver Davis, the title is The Life and Times of Patuone, the Celebrated Ngapuhi Chief. A photograph of the Chief is found opposite the title page. Patuone was a Maori leader who met Cook as a child when the latter visited the area in 1769. What makes this book unusual is the photograph of Patuone. Hordern House notes that they are unaware of any other examples of a photograph of someone who actually met Cook. This one is an accident of longevity, Patuone living to the age of 108, long enough to make it into the age of photography. AU $1,300 (US $1,242).

You may have noticed the absence of the most notable of Cook items in this review - the official reports of the three voyages or a complete set. They are here. We have chosen to focus on some of the less well-known items of Cook's career, but the Parks collection includes individual voyage sets, a complete three-voyage set, and many more items you would look to find in the best of Cook collections. You may reach Hordern House at (61-2) 9356 4411 or books@hordern.com. Their website is www.hordern.com.

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