COOK, JAMES, CAPTAIN. 1728-1779.
WITH RARE HAND-COLORED POA BIRD PLATE.
A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean undertaken, by the Command of His Majesty, for Making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. To Determine the Position and Extent of the West Side of North America; Its Distance from Asia; and the Practicability of a Northern Passage to Europe. Performed under the Direction of Captains Cook, Clerke, and Gore, in His Majesty's Ships the Resolution and Discovery. In the Years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780. London: W. & A. Strahan for G. Nicol, 1784. 4 volumes including atlas. , xcvi, 421; , 549; , 558,  pp. Illustrated with 87 plates, one of which is a hand-colored mezzotint, folding table, plus one chart in duplicate. 4to (291 x 229 mm) & folio (551 x 387 mm). Period full brown tree calf, spines gilt with red and black leather labels, rebacked, calf-edged custom cloth slipcase; atlas in modern half tan calf over marbled boards, gilt-lettered morocco spine label, custom calf-edged cloth slipcase. Some offset from plates, occasional toning and spots, stains to outer margins of some plates in atlas, text volumes with some general wear, joints tender, light shelfwear, but attractive.
First edition. A very attractive set of the official account of Cook's last voyage. The full story of the voyage and Cook's eventual murder while revisiting the Hawaiian Islands, was so eagerly awaited by the English public that the entire first edition was sold out at the then huge price of four pounds fourteen shillings and sixpence. Within three days copies were changing hands at up to ten guineas. The official artist on the voyage was John Webber, and his romantic views of the islands of the Pacific published remain the most evocative portrayals of the islandshelping to create the notion of an island paradise that so affected the European public eagerly reading the voyages of discovery being published in the eighteenth century. This copy is bound with the rare separately issued hand-colored mezzotint of the Poa Bird. Forbes includes the content of an advert in a London newspaper from July 6, 1784: "'Captain Cooks Voyage' The purchasers of the above Voyage may now be furnished with an elegant Print in Mezzo tinto of the Poi Bird (brought from Otaheite by Captain Cooke) ... and which print obtained a premium of Thirty Guineas from the Society of Arts. It may be framed or bound up with the volume of cuts belonging to the above work and is to be had at Mr. Lovell's, No. 20, Portugal-Street Lincoln's Inn. Price 5 s, colored after life." Forbes 62; Holmes 47; Hill 361; Sabin 162500.