MEARES, JOHN. 1756?-1809.
Voyages Made in the Years 1788 and 1789, from China to the North West Coast of America. To Which Are Prefixed, an Introductory Narrative of a Voyage Performed in 1786, from Bengal, in the Ship Nootka; Observations on the Probable Existence of a North West Passage; and Some Account of the Trade Between the North West Coast of America and China; and the Latter Country and Great Britain. London: Logographic Press and sold by J. Walter, 1790. viii, , xcv, , 372,  pp. Illustrated with stipple-engraved frontispiece portrait of Meares and 27 maps and plates, many of which are folding, and some which employ aquatint. 4to (270 x 210 mm). Full period tan diced calf, rebacked with tan morocco gilt. A few folding plates backed and with repairs, occasional faint spots, some toning, stray spots, but generally clean, light wear to covers, but attractive.
First edition. "Meares made two fur trading voyages to the Northwest Coast. The first, sponsored by Bengal merchants, included the ships Nootka and Sea Otter, which sailed from Calcutta on March 2, 1786. On this voyage Meares reached Alaska and visted Kodiak but was continually frustrated by the presence of the Russians. On the northwest coast he met Portlock and Dixon. In June 1787 he sailed to Hawaii and continued on to Canton, taking with him the Hawaiian chief Kiana (whose portrait is included among the plates). On the Nootka, Meares again arrived at Hawaii August 2, 1787 and departed September 2, 1787. Meares returned to Hawaii as master of the Felice," the renamed Nootka, October 18 and departed October 26, 1788.
Meares' second voyage to the American coast (1787-1788) was to alter the course of history. In 1788 he determined to establish a permanent fur-trading settlement at Nootka and engaged Colnett of the Argonaut and Hudson of the Princess Royal to accompany him. Shortly after arrival in territory claimed by Spain, the ships Iphigenia, Argonaut, and Princess Royal were seized by a Spanish frigate, and the resulting action, known as the "Nootka Controversy," nearly precipitated a war between England and Spain. The appendixes to this work contain letters and instructions, Dufferin's journal kept while exploring the Straits of Juan de Fuca in July 1788, and Meares' memorial to the House of Commons, May 13, 1790, claiming exclusive rights to Nootka and the prior raising of the British Flag. Meares' account was central to British claims to the Northwest Territory and led to the convention by which Spain's claim was finally disallowed. This has always been considered 'One of the fundamental books on the Northwest coast of America in general and on Alaska in particular' (Lada-Mocarski)" (Forbes 201).
Hill pp 195-6; Howes M469; Sabin 47260.