Rare First Edition American Books for Sale

Melvyn Teillol-Foo

Rare 1st Edition First American Book about Northwest Coast of America and Probably the First American Book on Hawaii

Cook: Pacific Islander Omai (photo credit: Princeton University)


250th Anniversary of Captain Cook’s First Expedition to the South Pacific

Sunday, 26th August 2018 is the 250th Anniversary of Captain James Cook’s departure on the first of his famous three voyages to the Pacific. He set sail on HMS Endeavour from Plymouth Harbour, England in 1768 having been commissioned by King George III.

Captain Cook’s Three Voyages

Peter Harrington, the UK’s largest rare bookseller, has a Complete Set of James Cook’s three voyages, including a copy of ‘The Life of Captain Cook’ by Andrew Kippis, for sale ($48,600).

Complete Set of Three Voyages ($48,600)


They also have a 1st edition of Cook’s third voyage, which was published in America before the English edition appeared and describes Cook’s visit to Hawaii, the first visit made by a European, and his exploration of the West Coast of America ($24,300).

Cook’s Voyages Set of Three


Peter Harrington also has rare books on Cook’s first and second voyages and other books by and about Captain James Cook.


Pom Harrington

As Pom Harrington the owner of Peter Harrington says “The British explorer, navigator, cartographer and naval officer Captain Cook made three incredible voyages to the Pacific in which he surveyed and named new places, and features, and these voyages made great contributions to many fields of knowledge. These books would form the cornerstone of any book collection on the Pacific and many people would love to own these rare books about Cook’s fascinating historical adventures.”

Cook: Tahiti  (photo credit: Princeton University)


Highlights of Captain Cook’s Three Voyages

Cook: New Zealand  (photo credit: Princeton University)

During Cook’s first voyage he observed the 1769 transit of Venus from Tahiti, discovered the Society Islands, made the first circumnavigation and charts of New Zealand and he led the first European expedition to the eastern coast of Australia which he charted and claimed for Britain on August 22, 1770, naming it New South Wales.


Cook: Ice Islands  (photo credit: Princeton University)

In 1772 he was sent on his second voyage to search for Terra Australis or the great southern land mass which was supposed to lie between New Zealand and South America. In 1773 he made the first recorded crossing of the Antarctic Circle and proved no ‘Terra Australis’ existed. On route to New Zealand he discovered a host of islands including Easter Island, Tahiti, Vanuatu and New Caledonia and he also mapped South Georgia before returning to London in 1775.


Cook: Beached Endeavour ©Princeton University

In 1776 he left on his third voyage and in 1778 became the first European to visit Hawaii and went on to explore the west coast of North America passing through the Bering Strait before returning to Hawaii. Back in Hawaii quarrels broke out between the Europeans and local people which led to Cook’s death in February 1779.

Cook: Matavai Bay, Tahiti  (photo credit: Princeton University)


Cook’s First Voyage

‘An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of his Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere‘ compiled by John Hawkesworth (1773) – $12,700.

Cook’s 1st Voyage

This is a handsome 1st edition, 3 volume set, of the official account of Cook’s first voyage, together with accounts of previous expeditions under Byron, Carteret and Wallis, compiled by John Hawkesworth.

Hawkesworth was a respected London author and was commissioned by the Admiralty to edit the journals of the sea captains. Although this book was a huge success and became a best-seller, it was less successful for Hawkesworth who was attacked by the captains for tampering with the texts of their journals, by prudish readers for reprinting descriptions of the sexual freedoms of the South Sea islanders, and by devout churchmen for the immoral introduction. Hawkesworth was devastated by the criticism, and it was thought to be the main cause of his death.

Cook’s Second Voyage

‘A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World‘ by James Cook (1777) – $6,500

Cook’s 2nd Voyage

A 1st edition of Cook’s second and historically most important voyage. In his circumnavigation of the globe in this voyage, Cook conclusively disproved the existence of a great southern continent, or ‘Terra Australis’, which was believed by some to connect Australia with a larger southern landmass. This account was written by Cook himself and it is noted for its very high-quality illustrations.

Cook’s Third Voyage

‘A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean’  by John Ledyard (1783) – $24,300

Cook’s 3rd Voyage

A remarkably well-preserved 1st edition of this rare book which is the first American account of Cook’s third voyage, which preceded publication of the official (London) account by more than a year. This was the first American book about the Northwest coast of America and probably the first American book on Hawaii and was written by the Connecticut-born John Ledyard who served under Cook.


Peter Harrington offers an unconditional guarantee of every item’s authenticity and completeness as described.

Peter Harrington Chelsea

There are two Peter Harrington branches in London, UK and the books are on display at the Chelsea shop:
Peter Harrington – Chelsea
100 Fulham Road
London SW3 6HS



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