Captain James Cook (1728-1779) is best known for his three voyages to the Pacific (1768-71; 1772-75; and 1776-79). His discoveries radically changed the western understanding of the world in the late 18th century. He was the first to circumnavigate and chart New Zealand and provided the earliest European accounts of exploration along the eastern coast of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands. On February 14th, 1779, he was killed on Hawaii after attempting to kidnap the chief of the island.
Many contemporary accounts of Cook’s voyages, including charts and engravings, appeared in the late 18th century. The first official account of Cook’s first voyage was published in 1773 by John Hawkesworth in Volumes II and III of An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere... William Strahan and Thomas Cadell published the first official accounts of the second and third voyages in 1777 and 1784. Accounts of his exploration were subsequently translated into French, German, and Dutch.
This chart of the islands of Tahiti is one of the earliest depicting the island and is a result of Cook's first voyage. Fully engraved to show the island's unique mountainous topography and the rivers which radiate from the centrally located mountain or volcano. A petition by the Royal Society to King George III requesting a scientific expedition to the Pacific to study and observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the sun from the island of Tahiti resulted in Cook's first expedition. In addition to the approved scientific voyage, the Admiralty embarked on a confidential mission to search the south Pacific for signs of the postulated continent Terra Australis Incognita. Engraved by Benard.
A crisp impression, issued folding on bright, watermarked paper with soiling at far right and bottom left. The top margin is very narrow, as issued.