Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

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An interesting example of one of the six acclaimed First Fleet books with an interesting American Provenance connected to George Washington. John White was the chief surgeon to the settlement at New South Wales and also an accomplished naturalist. This work describes and illustrates his findings during his travels in the new colony. It includes an important account of the voyage from London and of other colonial voyages to Norfolk Island. “White”s account contains many circumstances omitted by Governor Arthur Phillip and others. The long appendix is very important as it describes the natural history of the new colony; the first major work of this sort” [Hill].

The natural history plates are of great interest. The book was issued coloured and uncoloured, this being an example of the latter originally. However they were coloured by a fine hand at the time as the contemporary annotation to the bottom of title-page states “The Prints in this Book were colour’d by Elenor Parke Lewis in the year 1801”. This lady is one Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis (31 March 1779 – 15 July 1852), grand-daughter of Martha Custis, wife of George Washington the first US President. Her father died as aide to George Washington of typhoid during the American Revolution and as a result Martha and George Washington brought up two year old Eleanor and her brother. This example also bears the subscribers list containing seven hundred names which says a lot for the interest in the new colony and the South Pacific. It contains amongst the names a Mr Lewis who took delivery of six copies, one of which is undoubtedly offered here.

The excellent provenance can be enhanced further by noting its sale on 10-12 December 1890 at an auction of the effects of General George Washington by Thomas Birch’s Sons, 1110 Chesnut Street, Philadelphia. Lot 153 offered this item described down to the manuscript annotation. It was even mentioned in a contemporary report in the New York Times which recorded “Eleanor Parke Lewis must have been quite an artist to judge by a series of plates colored by her of animals, birds, lizards and serpents in “John White’s Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales”, published in London in 1790. This book is quite a curiosity, and was purchased by Mr Wilson for $40.” Ferguson 97; Hill 1858; Wantrup 17.

WHITE, John

Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales

London, 1790
Quarto (310 x 240 mm.), full contemporary calf, ornate gilt ruling to boards, slightly rubbed. First edition, engraved vignette title, list of subscribers, 65 hand-coloured engraved plates, some foxing and browning, [18], 299, [35] pp.
Stock number: 5022

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