LEWIS, Meriwether (1774-1809) and William CLARK (1770-1838)
Travels to the Source of the Missouri River and across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean. Performed by order of the government of the United States, in the years 1804, 1805, and 1806. By Captains Lewis and Clarke. Published from the Official Report
London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817. 3 volumes, octavo. (8 1/2 x 5 1/8 inches). 1 folding engraved map by Neele, 5 engraved plans.
Contemporary calf, covers with gilt border, spine with semi-raised bands in six compartments, black morocco lettering pieces in the second and fourth, the others with a repeat decoration in gilt, marbled endpapers and edges (expert repair to one joint)
Provenance: John Pulteney (armorial bookplate)
Third London edition of the "definitive account of the most important exploration of the North American continent" (Wagner-Camp).
The book describes the U.S. government-backed expedition to explore the newly-acquired Louisiana Purchase undertaken from 1804 to 1806 by ascending the Missouri to its source, crossing the Rocky Mountains, and reaching the Pacific Ocean. In total, the expedition covered some eight thousand miles in just over twenty-eight months. They brought back the first reliable information about much of the area they traversed, made contact with the Indian inhabitants as a prelude to the expansion of the fur trade, and advanced by a quantum leap the geographical knowledge of the continent. Because of the death of Lewis, the publication of the official account was delayed until 1814, when the Philadelphia edition appeared. The 1814 British quarto edition quickly sold out, necessitating a three-volume 1815 octavo edition to satisfy public demand; the present edition followed. The large folding map of the West (by Neele after the original Philadelphia edition map) recalls an extraordinary feat of cartography, accurately revealing much of the trans-Mississippi for the first time. It is on a slightly larger scale than the original, Wheat notes that the map is almost identical to the Philadelphia edition "except for a few minor variations."
Howes L-317. cf. Sabin 40830; Wagner-Camp 13:4; cf. Wheat Transmississippi 317.