Narrative of the loss of the whaling brig William and Joseph, of Martha's Vineyard

DEXTER Elisha (1842.)

£4000.00  [First Edition]


and the Sufferings of her Crew for Seven Days on a Raft in the Atlantic Ocean.

First edition. Illustrations to text. 8vo. Modern wrappers in a custom slipcase, a little dusty, small tears repaired not affecting text. 54pp. Boston, Samuel N. Dickinson,

Exceedingly rare. Dexter himself notes the small number of the first edition, which is borne out by the two recorded copies at Brown and AAS.


The William and Joseph departed Holmes' Hole on August 2, 1840 in search of sperm whales. After some early success, they stopped briefly at the Azores and Cape Verde islands, both of which Dexter describes in some detail - the geography, soil, climate and inhabitants. The crew then made for the West Indies where they restocked the ship and spent time recuperating. In September 1841, they made for home with just 200 barrels of oil. They encountered poor weather on October 20, which continued to press into the following morning, stripping the sails and kept the ship "about one third over" before it finally capsized and, ten minutes later, righted itself with the loss of both masts. Just two men were lost.


The author had a financial interest in the William and Joseph and, on returning home, discovered that it was uninsured. In a bid to recoup some of his losses, he produced this narrative. Dexter's account is interspersed with informative, not to mention amusing, asides: "I will here observe that nine-tenths of the time this 'hard luck' is nothing more than bad management. The excuses are endless...[b]ut a good whaleman is known by his having few excuses." A second edition was published in 1848.


Just two copies are recorded at auction in 1993 and 2010. Huntress, 357C; Jenkins, p94; not in Sabin.

Stock Code: 243655

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