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A large paper, 1748 first in contemporary speckled calf of Anson’s own A Voyage Round the World…, the official account of his expedition’s circumnavigation and a work that has been described as perhaps the most popular book of maritime adventure of the 18th century, sold at £7500.

Published some years before that official narrative, however, was an anonymous Authentic Account of Commodore Anson’s Expedition…, here bound in modern calf, which sold at £3500 – and there were other early rarities to be had at the auction on February 26.

Mutinous crew

When one of Anson’s ships, the Wager, was wrecked off the Chilean coast after rounding Cape Horn, a gunner, John Bulkeley, and the carpenter, John Cummins, led a mutinous part of the surviving crew back through the Straits of Magellan in a longboat and eventually got back to Rio de Janeiro.

A 1743 first-issue copy (in modern half calf) of their own account of that voyage sold at £1600, but bid to £5500 was a 1747 first in rebacked contemporary marbled boards of The Sequel to Bulkeley and Cummins’ Voyage to the South Seas…

This was an account compiled by some of those 14 men who had chosen to remain with Captain David Cheap after the wreck of the Wager. They had made their way along the Chilean coast until captured by Spanish authorities, eventually returning to England in 1746.

This now exceptionally rare work was apparently recalled soon after publication and suppressed.

Published in Exeter c.1750 and here bid to £7000 was a first of Isaac Morris’ Narrative…, an account of these same events by a midshipman on the Wager and another of those abandoned in Patagonia by Bulkeley and Cummins.

It appears to have been the only copy to come to auction in 50 years.

The sale’s major printed lot, a set of that famous and monumental work that is the Description de l’Egypte of 1809-22, failed to sell on an estimate of £150,000-200,000.

Picturesque voyage

Illustrated in Bid Barometer, ATG No 2432, was one of the 50 coloured aquatints that make up a copy of Thomas & William Daniell’s Picturesque Voyage to India, by the Way of China which sold online at £11,000.

Polar material included a number of well-received lots, among them a collection of watercolours in the hand of one of the great names in the history of Arctic exploration, Admiral Sir George Back.

Sold at £15,000, ‘Esquimaux pillaging the Boats’, an 1826 watercolour, was reproduced as an engraving in John Franklin’s 1828 Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea…

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‘Esquimaux pillaging the Boats’, George Back’s watercolour original of one of the engraved plates that illustrate Franklin’s 1828 'Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea…' sold at £15,000 at Bonhams.

The most expensive of the group, however, was a watercolour drawing of ‘Mckenzie River and the Rocky Mountains’ that featured in that same work. It realised £18,000.

Among the books, an 1878 first in the publisher’s blue and gilt pictorial binding of Albert Markham’s Personal Narrative of the Voyage of the Alert…, a presentation copy to Lewis Beaumont, a fellow member of the British Arctic Expedition of 1875-76 led by George Nares, made a record £2200.