BACK, Admiral Sir George (1796-1878)
Narrative of the Arctic land expedition to the mouth of the Great Fish River, and along the shores of the Arctic Ocean, in the years 1833, 1834, and 1835.
London: A.Spottiswoode for John Murray, 1836. 4to, 1 volume bound in two. (11 x 8 5/8 inches). 16 plates on india paper mounted, after Back (13) and B. Waterhouse Hawkins (3), (7 lithographed by Haghe or Day & Haghe, 9 steel-engraved by E. Finden), 1 folding engraved map, numerous illustrations.
19th-century blue half morocco over pebble-grained cloth covered boards, bound for Philip Hammond with his gilt armorial blocked on the covers, spines in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second and fourth compartments, the others with fillets in gilt and blind, comb-marbled endpapers, t.e.g.
Provenance: Philip Hammond (Westacre, Norfolk, England, binding and armorial bookplates)
A fine clean copy of this rare large-paper issue of the first edition: "One of the fundamental books on Arctic exploration" (Hill) and "one of the finest travel books of the nineteenth century" (Howgego).
A large paper copy of this major source both in the early exploration of the Far North and its ethnology. "...Full of details of [Back's] ... commerce with the Cree, Chippewa, and Coppermine Indians..[this work is ] ... a fundamental source of information about Indian life along the route of the Arctic expedition" (Streeter). The narrative also contains valuable information on Arctic flora and fauna. The original primary intention of the expedition had been to aid the second expedition of Sir John Ross. News of Ross's safe return reached Back in April 1833 and he then pursued the expedition's secondary objectives. These were, firstly, to navigate the length of a river supposedly arising in the neighbourhood of the Great Slave Lake and running north to the Arctic sea, and then, secondly, to map as much as possible of the sea-coast. He was successful in both objectives, travelling 7,500 miles in total and traversing the full 440-mile length of the river (known as 'Thlueetessy' by the Indians). The Great Fish River, as Back named it, has since become known as Back River. This copy, bound for Philip Hammond, has the "Appendix" (pp. [473-664] + 3 fish plates + the large folding map) bound in a separate volume: it is worth noting that this expedition was financed by subscription, and that "Sir G.E. Hammond" is listed as having contributed £2.0s.0d towards the costs of the expedition.
Arctic Bibliography 851; cf.BM(NH) I,p.81 (incorrect plate count); Field 63; Hill (2004) 42; cf. Howgego II,B3; Sabin 2613 (incorrect plate count); cf. Staton & Tremaine 1873 (octavo edition); Wagner-Camp 58b:1 (octavo edition).