A Voyage towards the North Pole,

PHIPPS Constantine John (1774.)

£3000.00  [First Edition]

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Undertaken by his Majesty's Command, 1773.

First edition. 3 folding maps & 12 engraved folding plates (including views and diagrammatic plates). With tables (some folding). 4to. Fine contemporary marbled calf. Red label and gilt to spine. Edges, corners, joints and headcaps rubbed, spine a little worn. Binding sound. A little offsetting to endpapers and from a bound in green silk book-mark, one browned plate. viii, 253, [binder's directions]pp. London, W. Bowyer and J. Nichols,

Departing in 1773, Constantine John Phipps, 2nd Baron Mulgrave, led the reinforced bomb sloops Racehorse and Carcass in search of a route to the East Indies via the Arctic. It was the first expedition to specifically set out for the North Pole since 1615, and they reached as far as 80°48' before being blocked by the ice north of Spitzbergen, where they were forced to turn back.

The long appendix contains valuable tabulated observations and results obtained on the voyage, for which it is considered to be the first purely scientific expedition to the Arctic. In the zoological observations Phipps is the first to give a scientific binomial and description to the species polar bear (Thalarctos maratimus Phipps). The specially appointed astronomer Israel Lyons conducted important research for the Board of Longitude, including the trialling of timekeepers, and a Dr. Charles Irving accompanied the ship in the capacity of surgeon, though first and foremost to oversee the trial of his own invented device to distil sea water into drinking water. His assistant, Olaudah Equiano, also describes the voyage in his 1789 autobiography The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African. Though not mentioned in Phipps' official account, the voyage is also renowned for a close encounter which occurred between a polar bear and a fourteen-year-old midshipman, by the name of Horatio Nelson.


Hill, 1351; Sabin, 62572..

Stock Code: 240023

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