Viaggi dalla China alla costa nord-ovest d'America fatti negli anni 1788 e 1789 dal Capitano G. Meares : prima traduzione italiana : arricchita di note istoriche-scientifiche di vedute, marine, ritratti, carta geografica ec.

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Author: Meares, John (c1756-1809)

Year: 1796

Publisher: Presso Giuseppe Policarpo Merande. Luigi Coltellini

Place: Napoli (Naples)


4 volumes. [2]+3+[1 blank]+261 pages with frontispiece, four plates and index; [2]+238 pages with three plates (one folding), two maps and index; [2]+220 pages with large foldout map of the pacific and North West Coast of America, one folding plate, geographical vocabulary and index; [2]+252 pages with four maps, two folding plates, maritime vocabulary and index. Small octavo (7 3/4" x 5 1/4") bound in contemporary quarter black leather with gilt lettering and decoration to spine over marbled boards. (Howes M 471) Second Italian edition.

John Meares was a navigator, explorer, and maritime fur trader.Meares undertook his first voyage to the northwest coast of North America in 1786, sailing from Calcutta (India) in charge of two trading ships, the Nootka, under his own command, and the Sea Otter, under William Tipping. Meares may have been the principal owner of the Bengal Fur Company, the firm that organized the expedition; he was certainly its guiding spirit. He traded in Alaskan waters and wintered in Prince William Sound, where 23 of his crew died of scurvy. In May 1787 captains Nathaniel Portlock and George Dixon found him there, his ships trapped in the ice. Though captured, in effect, by Portlock and Dixon, Meares was released on bond with the understanding that he would sail directly for Macao and not return to the northwest coast. In January 1788 Meares again sailed for the northwest coast, reaching Nootka Sound in May in the Feliz Aventureira, accompanied by the Efigenia Nubiana under the command of William Douglas. Meares sailed under the Portuguese flag, a device that allowed him to trade freely at Macao (a Portuguese possession) and pay lower customs duties at Canton. At Canton during the winter of 1788–89 Meares and his associates formed a partnership with the King George’s Sound Company, calling the new concern the Associated Merchants Trading to the Northwest Coast of America. To represent the new firm Meares sent James Colnett, with the Argonaut and the Princess Royal, to join the Efigenia and the North West America in trade on the coast. Early in 1789 a force of Spaniards under Esteban José Martínez was sent to establish a post at Nootka Sound in order to protect Spanish claims to the area. Between mid May and mid July Martinez seized all four Associated Merchants’ vessels, contending that foreign ships were violating Spanish rights of trade and navigation on the coast and in adjacent seas. When news of the seizures reached Meares in China he sailed to England where, on 30 April 1790, he submitted his Memorial on the capture of British vessels at Nootka to the Home secretary, William Wyndham Grenville. In his statement Meares exaggerated the permanence of the British settlement in the sound and the losses sustained by the Associated Merchants. But anti-Spanish sentiment ran high, and the British cabinet at the height of the Nootka crisis announced the outfitting of a large fleet. Under this coercion Spain agreed to the terms eventually announced in the Nootka Convention of 28 Oct. 1790 (revised in 1793 and 1794), whereby British rights to the trade at Nootka and to navigation in the Pacific were acknowledged. Widespread interest in the maritime fur trade and the northwest coast led Meares to bring forth in 1790 his pretentious Voyages made in the years 1788 and 1789, from China to the north west coast, which magnified the author’s accomplishments in discovery and trade at the expense of others, including Dixon, who had aided Meares at Prince William Sound in 1787.


Moderate rubbing and extremity wear, corners bumped. Edges speckled. Light scattered foxing, heavier on preliminary and terminal sheets. Volume I has small tear on lower corner of pages 31-32, damp-staining on pages 157-168. Volume III has damp-staining on lower margins on pages 197-220. A very good set.

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