Catalog Archive
Auction 182, Lot 804

First Edition of Anson's Voyage

"A Voyage Round the World, in the Years MDCCXL, I, II, III, IV....", Anson, George

Subject: Exploration & Surveys

Period: 1748 (published)


Color: Black & White

7.9 x 9.9 inches
20.1 x 25.1 cm
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This is the first edition of Anson's work describing his voyage around the world. In 1740, George Anson set sail in command of a squadron sent to attack Spanish possessions and interests in South America. The expedition was ill-equipped and failed to carry out its original ambitious mission. By June 1741 when Anson reached Juan Fernandes, his force had been reduced to only three of the original six ships, while the strength of his crews had fallen from 961 to 335. After launching several attacks on the west coast of South America and recuperating on the island he collected the remaining survivors on his flagship, the Centurion, and set sail in search of one of the richly laden galleons that conducted the trade between Mexico and the Philippines. The indomitable perseverance he had shown during one of the most arduous voyages in the history of sea adventure gained the reward of the capture of an immensely rich prize, the Nuestra Señora de Covadonga, which he encountered off Cape Espiritu Santo on June 20, 1743. From here he sailed back to Canton before traveling through Southeast Asia and around the southern tip of Africa. He made his way back to England, arriving in Spithead in June 1744.

This quarto version includes 39 of the 42 issued plates including 12 of the 13 maps and charts depicting his voyage. Facsimiles of the three missing plates have been tipped in to the volume making it quasi-complete. Of particular interest are the following two large folding maps engraved by Richard Seale:

A Chart of the Pacific Ocean from the Equinoctial to the Latitude of 39 ½d. No. (33.5 x 10.7"). This unusual chart joined on two sheets details the route of Spanish galleons between the Philippines and Acapulco. The tracks of British Navy Commodore George Anson and Spanish Nostra Seigniora de Cabadonga are shown. A somewhat speculative depiction of the islands of Japan is shown at top left. Condition: There is light offsetting, scattered foxing, and a 1.5" edge tear at bottom.

A Chart of the Southern Part of South America... (18.4 x 20"). This handsome chart shows the route of Capt. George Anson's expedition from St. Catherine's Island off the coast of Brazil, around Cape Horn and up to Juan Fernandes Island (now known as Robinson Crusoe Island) off the coast of Chili. The chart shows numerous calculations of water depth, ocean currents, and includes navigational notes. A decorative compass rose with fleur-de-lys is positioned in the sea. Condition: Trimmed by the binder to just inside the left border with an associated 2" binding tear that has been closed on verso with old paper. Light scattered foxing.

The remaining plates include coastal views, naval battles, land views, and an interesting plate depicting a pair of sea lions. Title, dedication, list of subscribers, contents, introduction, 417 pages of text (4 pages in facsimile), and directions to the binder. This is the first edition but no engraved portrait of Anson precedes the title page as noted in the Shirley reference. Printed for John and Paul Knapton in London. Rebound in full leather with gilt title and raised bands on spine with much of the original leather pasted on the new covers.

References: Shirley (BL Atlases) G.ANS-1a; Mercator's World Nov/Dec 1998 pp. 45-51.

Condition: B

See description above for the two large folding maps. The plates are good to very good with occasional light toning, minor offsetting, and some soiling and small tears along the right edge of the folding plates. There is a 4" edge tear to the view of Acapulco. Text is mostly clean and bright. Bookplate from "Shaw's Circulating Library" on the front pastedown. Rebound in full leather with much of the original leather pasted on the new covers.

Estimate: $1,600 - $1,900


Closed on 4/28/2021