Events | August 6, 2018

Peter Harrington Rare Books Celebrates 250th Anniversary of Captain Cook Expedition 

Sunday 26th August 2018 marks 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 in 1768 having been commissioned by King George III.

Peter Harrington, the UK’s largest rare bookseller, has a complete set of James Cook’s 3 voyages, including a copy of The Life of Captain Cook by Andrew Kippis, for sale (£37,500), as well as rare books on each of the voyages and other books by and about Captain James Cook.

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.”

Complete set of the three voyages by Captain James Cook with The Life of Captain Cook by Andrew Kippis (1773-1785) - £37,500

4 works in 10 volumes: This set includes first editions of the first two voyages made by Cook, the preferred second edition of his third voyage and a first edition of Kippis's biography of Captain Cook. The 10 volumes are attractively bound with wonderful illustrations. The extra-large maps and illustrations from the third voyage are contained in a separate atlas folio volume. 

 Highlights of Captain Cook’s Three Voyages:

  • 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 22nd August 1770, naming it New South Wales;
  • 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;
  • 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’s First Voyage

An Account of the Voyages undertaken…for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere...compiled by John Hawkesworth (1773) - £9,750

This is a handsome first 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, James Cook (1777) - £5,000

A first edition of Cook’s second and historically most important voyage, and the only one to be included in Printing and the Mind of Man as one of the printed books that made the greatest impact on humanity. 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 (1783) - £18,750

A remarkably well-preserved first 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. It was written by the Connecticut-born John Ledyard who served under Cook.

The books are on display at Peter Harrington in Fulham Road, Chelsea. Peter Harrington offers an unconditional guarantee of every item’s authenticity and completeness as described. For more information see: