1845 Wilkes Exploring Expedition 5 Volume Set W/ Maps In Excellent Condition For SaleWonderful and very rare, 1845 Quarto Edition of the Report of the United States Exploring Expedition led by U S Navy Civil War and Commander of the Expedition Charles Wilkes. This stunning beautiful and very well preserved 5 Volume Set is titled â€œNarrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. During the Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1842.â€�. By Charles Wilkes, U.S.N. Philadelphia, 1845. Published by Lee and Blanchard. Complete in 5 Volumes - uniformly bound in the original and beautiful, blind stamped and gilt decorated cloth.
Each of the 5 Volumes measure approx. 6 1/4â€� x 9 3/4â€� and contain lvi/434, xii/476; xii/438, xiv/540 and xii/558 plus a half title in each Volume, 11 maps (10 folding), 3 folding tables and â€œnearly 300â€� part page illustrations. This edition was the first issue that was generally available to the public with the earlier octavo editions issued in very limited numbers. This Set was not issued with an additional Atlas volume (only the earliest, limited printing octavo editions were issued with a separate Atlas) but rather the maps from the Atlas are bound into the volumes as 11 maps (10 folding).
The Wilkes Expedition played a major role in development of 19th-century science, particularly in the growth of the U.S. Scientific establishment. Many of the species and other items found by the expedition helped formed the basis of collections at the new Smithsonian Institution. With the help of the expedition's scientists, derisively called "clam diggers" and "bug catchers" by navy crewmembers, 280 islands (mostly in the Pacific Ocean) were explored, and over 800 miles of Oregon were mapped. Of no less importance, over 60,000 plant and bird specimens were collected. A staggering amount of data and specimens were collected during the expedition, including the seeds of 648 species, which were later traded, planted, and sent throughout the country. Dried specimens were sent to the National Herbarium, now a part of the Smithsonian Institution. There were also 254 live plants, which mostly came from the home stretch of the journey, that were placed in a newly constructed greenhouse in 1850, which later became the United States Botanic Garden.
This rare and beautiful Set of Volumes are in excellent condition. Each Volume is bound in its original, blind stamped and gilt decorated, dark brown cloth covers which are all in excellent condition - clean and crisp - tight and sound - with no fading at the spines and with only light wear at the extremities. The interior poages of each volume are very well preserved - complete and tight - exceptionally clean and crisp throughout. The only damage is an onl, brown gall ink drawing on the attached front endpaper of Volume 2 with a lighter transfer image on the opposite free front endpaper. Also the first 2 leaves of Volume II (including the title page) have a chip at the upper outside corner (possibly from being misscut by the publisher). Each of the 5 Volumes has the same, modern bookplate on the inside front cover. All called for maps and tables are present and very well preserved. While we have owned 3 other sets of this very rare Exploration Narrative over the past 33+ years, we have never even seen (much less owned) an example in such attractive, original condition!!
A very rare and important, early edition (1845) of the Narrative of the Wilkes Exploring Expedition and a fantastic addition to any collection!!!
Below is a short description of the Wilkes Expedition:
Charles Wilkes was a lifetime Navy Man and before the Civil War, commanded an important South Seas Exploring Expedition. Despite his many accomplishments, Wilkes acquired a reputation as an arrogant, cruel, and capricious leader. The impetuosity of his nature, for which he was twice court-martialed, was demonstrated when early in the Civil War, as commander of the San Jacinto, he stopped the British mail ship Trent and, contrary to all regulations, forcibly removed Confederate commissioners John Slidell and James M. Mason. The incident, which became known as the "Trent Affair", almost involved the Union in a war with England.
In the spring of 1839, Charles Wilkes was informed that he had been chosen to command the South Seas Exploring Expedition. President Van Buren approved his appointment on 20 April, and Wilkes assumed command of Vincennes at Norfolk on 7 July. He received his final orders on 11 August and set sail in Vincennesâ€”in company with Peacock, Porpoise, Sea Gull, Flying Fish, and Reliefâ€”on the 18th. After stops at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Tierra del Fuego located at the southern tip of South America, Wilkes took his expedition on its first cruise through Antarctic waters in February and March of 1839. He returned to Tierra del Fuego and then later headed through the south seas to Sydney, Australia, where he arrived on 29 November. On the day after Christmas, he embarked upon his second voyage to the Antarctic. In January 1840, he sighted the actual land mass which constitutes Antarctica, though it took later explorations to vindicate his assertions that the continent existed.
By late spring 1840, the expedition moved north again and began the exploration of the islands of the South Pacific. After surveying the Fiji Islands between May and August, the expedition departed those islands, bound for Hawaii on 11 August. The Hawaiian survey, conducted between 24 September 1840 and 5 April 1841, centered upon a study of the volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Wilkes completed his work in Hawaii in April 1841 and set sail on the 5th for the west coast. After surveys of parts of the coast of the Pacific Northwest during the summer of 1841, he brought his expedition into San Francisco on 14 August. Its arrival back in the United States, however, signaled no end to the work of the expedition. On 1 November, it put to sea once again, this time for a voyage to the western Pacific. During that cruise, Wilkes visited Manila in the Philippines, the British colony at Singapore, and Cape Town on the southern tip of Africa. Wilkes and his command concluded the expedition upon arrival at New York on 10 June 1842.
For almost 19 years, Wilkes worked with the data gathered by his expedition. During that period, he supervised the publication of the results of that exploration in a series of Narratives under the auspices of the Navy. He also received two promotions during that timeâ€”to commander in 1843 and to captain in 1855. The only break in this duty came in the second half of 1858 when the Secretary of the Navy sent Wilkes on a special mission to evaluate the potential for naval use of the natural resourcesâ€”primarily iron, coal, and timberâ€”of North Carolina's Deep River region.
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