BOWDITCH, Nathaniel (1773-1838)
The New American Practical Navigator; Being an Epitome of Navigation
Newburyport: Edmund M. Blunt, . 8vo. (8 5/8 x 5 1/4 inches). Engraved folding frontispiece map, 7 engraved plates. 3pp. publisher's ads in the rear.
Expertly bound to style in period tree calf, flat spine ruled in gilt, red morocco lettering piece
The First Edition of Bowditch, the first accurate American navigational guide and a landmark work in its field.
"The first complete epitome of practical navigation for the common man ... Often termed the greatest book in all the history of navigation, this intellectual achievement of our early culture was indispensable to the maritime and commercial expansion of the nineteenth century" (Grolier, American Hundred). Bowditch was first hired by Blunt to revise John Hamilton Moore's New Practical Navigator, first published by Blunt with Bowditch's additions in 1799. Proficient in several languages, with a good amount of sailing experience, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Bowditch added much in the way of additional information to the work. He contributed so much in the way of revisions, that Blunt decided to completely redo the book, publishing it in 1802 with a new title and with Bowditch listed as the author. It is a fundamentally important work on the art of navigation, with scores of tables and diagrams, and a wealth of practical information. The whole history of the Bowditch Navigator is told exhaustively in John Campbell's History and Bibliography of the New American Practical Navigator (Salem, 1964). Campbell identifies eight different imprints for the first edition (all listing different regional booksellers) and does not hazard to officially assign priority. The first edition of Bowditch is notoriously difficult to find complete and in good condition.
Dibner Heralds of Science 15; Grolier American 25; Howes B657; Norman 292; Shaw & Shoemaker 1938; Streeter Sale 3967; Campbell 3.