London: George Goulding, 1789, 4to, contemporary half calf over marbled boards, rebacked, spine gilt in compartments, red morocco gilt label, with large engraved, folding map, 20 Engraved Plates and leaf of ‘Indian Song’, an attractive copy.
The text is in the form of letters signed W[illiam] B[eresford] to a friend named Hamelin, with additions by Dixon, including the introduction, the sketch of the natural history, and the large map. Beresford was the supercargo aboard the Queen Charlotte, and both he, Portlock and Dixon were charged with establishing a fur trade between the northwest American coast and China, disregarding the existing Russian fur trade in Alaska. Dixon and Portlock were both veterans of Cook’s last voyage and this work includes an account of the Hawaiian Islands where they wintered during 1787-88.
Nathaniel Portlock (1748-1817) joined the British navy at the age of twenty-four, and was chosen as a junior officer on Captain Cook’s third voyage, the first to encounter Hawaii (see AJ-130). With him on that trip was another young British officer, George Dixon, and in 1785 the two of them traveled to the north Pacific again. Portlock commanded this 1785-1788 expedition from the ship King George while Dixon captained the Queen Charlotte. The purpose of the expedition was to investigate the potential of the Alaskan fur trade and to resume Cook’s search for a Northwest Passage through the continent.
The pair left England on August 29, 1785, and took nearly a year to reach Alaska, rounding Cape Horn and touching at Hawaii on the way. They charted the Alaskan coast until winter forced them back to Hawaii. In the spring of 1787 they headed north again, reaching the Kenai Peninsula from which Dixon explored southward while Portlock traded for furs. They wintered again in Hawaii before turning west to China to sell their furs, arriving home in England via the Cape of Good Hope on August 24, 1788.
Cox II, 27-28; Forbes 161; Hill 117; Howes D-365; Lada-Mocarski 43; Sabin 20364.