Boston: E.G. House, for the Author, 1817. Octavo, measuring 8.5 x 5 inches: 598, . Contemporary calf, spine ruled in gilt, red morocco spine label lettered in gilt. Engraved frontispiece; engraved portrait of Abba Thulle, “King of the Pelew Islands;” folding map of Pitcairn Island. List of plates and errata at rear. Light penciled signature “Fanning” to final flyleaf. Moderate foxing, light shelfwear, tiny chip to head of spine.
First edition of Massachusetts sea captain Amasa Delano’s account of his voyages between 1790 and 1810, covering the Hawaiian, “Pelew,” and Galapagos islands; Manila, Canton and Macao; New Guinea, Australia, and the East Indies; and Chile and Peru. Delano’s narrative is best remembered for his account of the capture of the Spanish ship Tryal off the coast of Chile, the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, in which an unsuspecting American captain boards a moored ship in the middle of a slave revolt, misinterpreting every action he witnesses. In Delano’s original account: “the negro, who kept constantly at the elbows of Don Benito and myself, I should, at any other time, have immediately resented. . . . the Spanish sailors were then seen jumping overboard and making for our boat.” This copy bears the ownership signature of fellow sea captain Edmund Fanning, “the Pathfinder of the Pacific,” a native of Connecticut who set sail in 1792 for the South Seas. During the following decades, Fanning sailed around the world, visiting Australia, South Georgia, Fiji, Tonga, and the Marquesas. For some time, he and Delano sailed the same seal trade route from the Falklands up the coast of Chile, both profiting handsomely. Fanning’s copy of Delano’s narrative is offered with a 1960 first edition of Walter Teller’s Five Sea Captains: Their Own Accounts of Voyages Under Sail, which features Delano’s “Voyage in the Ship Perseverance” and Fanning’s “First Voyage Round the World as Commander.” Howes D233, Sabin 19349, Shaw & Shoemaker 40635. A very good copy, with excellent seafaring provenance.