Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2008 Issue

A Stunning Captain James Cook Catalogue from Hordern House

Cook

Captain James Cook from Hordern House.


By Michael Stillman

We recently received what must be the finest catalogue we have seen in the five years we have been presenting reviews. When a book catalogue comes with a hard cover and dust jacket, you know it is going to be special. Still, this was unexpected. Hordern House, the Australian bookseller that often features travels and voyages, regularly publishes extraordinary catalogues. This one is spectacular. The title is Captain James Cook The Great Discoverer. Offered is The Robert and Mary Anne Parks Collection. The Parks, collectors from Michigan, assembled a fantastic collection Cook and Cook-related material. This stunning presentation offers thorough, detailed descriptions and images of each item. Now this catalogue can join the items that belong in a Cook collection. Here are some of those offered.

The catalogue starts with a signature from early in Cook's career. Long before he embarked on his three journeys to the Pacific, Cook was sent to map areas of Atlantic Canada, first the St. Lawrence, later Newfoundland. It was the thoroughness of his work that led to Cook's being selected to lead his three famed voyages. Item 1 is a May 12, 1859 discharge certificate for Lieutenant George Allen from HMS Pembroke, signed by Cook. Allen was discharged for the very good reason that he was dead. Normally, the discharge would have been signed by Captain Simcoe as the commander, but he was mortally ill by this time. Priced at AU $78,500 (that is Australian dollars, or approximate US equivalent of $75,125).

Item 7 is a unique survival of Cook's first voyage, the first printed map of the lands it discovered. It was created by the expedition's naturalist, Sir Joseph Banks, and his botanist, Daniel Solander. It is the first map to depict the complete continent of Australia (then called "New Holland") and the two islands of New Zeeland. It is one of only two copies of this map known to exist, and the only copy on thick paper. The Hordern House catalogue includes a fold-out image of this very rare map. Price on request.

Item 34 is an unusual letter from Captain Cook as he prepared for his second voyage. This was perhaps his most important trip as it once and for all disproved the theory of a massive southern continent. The letter is addressed to a "Mr. Coggin," likely Charles Coggan, a director of the English East India Company. Cook, in his own hand, pleads for the release of one James Keaton, who was evidently press-ganged onto an East India Company ship to serve as a soldier. Press-ganging was a nasty way of recruiting sailors in the day, where they were involuntarily pulled off the streets and forced into service. Keaton must have been a sailor that Cook intended to bring on his voyage, so he pleads, "...I beg you will order him to be discharged or delivered up to such persons as I shall send for that purpose." Hordern House notes that there is no record of a James Keaton ever sailing with Cook, and that it is unlikely that this represents a confusion with the somewhat similarly named John Heaton, which perhaps indicates Cook's plea was not successful. Price on request.

Rare Book Monthly

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