A voyage to the South Sea . . . for the purpose of conveying the bread-fruit tree to the West Indies, in his majesty’s ship the Bounty, commanded by Lieutenant William Bligh. London, George Nicol, 1792 [including] A narrative of the mutiny, on board his majesty’s ship Bounty; and the subsequent voyage of part of the crew, in the ship’s boat, from Tofoa, one of the Friendly Islands, to Timor, a Dutch settlement in the East Indies. Written by Lieutenant William Bligh.

London, George Nicol, 1790.

4to (300 x 235 mm), pp. [x], 1–153, [1, blank]; iv, 88, [1, blank]; 246–264, with a portrait of Bligh and seven plates and charts; occasional light browning and faint offsetting from the plates and charts (as often), but an outstanding copy in contemporary tree calf (carefully rebacked, preserving old spine).


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The rare composite issue of the first edition of the Voyage to the South Sea incorporating the first edition of the Narrative of the mutiny which had been published in 1790. The regular issue of the Voyage simply reprinted Bligh’s account of the mutiny, but this special issue allowed owners of the original Narrative to combine it with the newly published Voyage to obtain a complete account of the expedition.

‘There is a variant of the 1792 Voyage which is known in only a few copies. The “Advertisement” to the 1792 publication explains that “for the accommodation of the purchasers of the Narrative already published, those who desire it, will be supplied with the other parts of the Voyage separate; i.e., the part previous to the mutiny, and the additional account after leaving Timor”. This very rare composite issue contains the sheets of the complete 1790 first edition of A narrative of the mutiny on board his majesty’s ship Bounty bound up with the sheets from the 1792 volume which describe the Bounty’s voyage before the mutiny and the transactions which followed Bligh’s arrival in Timor. The first portion of this issue consists of the sheets of text from the 1792 Voyage up to page 153. This first portion is followed by the 1790 Narrative, consisting of its 92 pages, frontispiece and three charts. The volume is completed by the final portion, pages 246 to 264, from the 1792 Voyage as well as all the additional charts and plates issued with the 1792 account. In this issue what would be pages 154 and 245 are left blank’ (Wantrup p. 130). As often C1 in the Narrative is a cancel.

The composite issue is seldom encountered. In 1964 Maggs remarked that ‘we have only handled three copies’ (Voyages and travels IV, item 1402); Ferguson, in 1941, located but one copy, in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, with a second, in the National Library of Australia, noted in the addenda (1986). It is not described by ESTC. On the market the most recent sale known to Wantrup was that of the Australian collector F. G. Coles in 1965, but since then, also in Australia, Rodney Davidson acquired a copy, which he sold in 2005. The present copy, hitherto unrecorded, has the armorial bookplate of Charles Shaw-Lefevre, first Viscount Eversley (1794–1888), sometime speaker of the House of Commons (see Oxford DNB).

Ferguson 126; Kroepelien 93n. (‘extremely rare . . . not seen’); O’Reilly & Reitman 551; Wantrup 62b.