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Anson's Voyage, printed on "royal paper"

(ANSON, GEORGE). WALTER, RICHARD. A Voyage Round the World, in the years MDCCXL, I, II, III, IV. By George Anson, Esq. … sent upon an expedition to the South-Seas

London: for the author by John and Paul Knapton, 1748

Large quarto (11 1/2 x 8 3/4 in.). 42 folding copper engraved maps, plans, charts, and views. Complete with List of Subscribers and Directions to Binder. Contemporary calf, spine gilt, morocco labels. Expertly rebacked preserving spine. An excellent copy in a handsome period binding.

First edition of Anson’s Voyage, one of the greatest accounts of an 18th-century voyage. This is the deluxe “royal paper” issue available at a premium to subscribers. “The copies of the first edition, on royal paper … were superior to any book of the kind which had hitherto been published, and were unequalled until Cook’s voyages appeared. Of the large paper copies, 350 were taken by subscription” (Sabin 1629).

This is the official account of Anson’s voyage, undertaken to harass the Spanish ships off South America, then at war with Britain. Anson’s squadron ended up taking a number of prizes off the Pacific coast, including a Spanish galleon off Manila carrying a staggering 1.3 million pieces of eight!

“Anson’s voyage of 1740-44 holds a unique and terrible place in British maritime history. [When] Anson reached the coast of China in November 1742 he was left with one ship and a handful of men, some of whom had ‘turned mad and idiots.’ The most extraordinary part of the voyage was still to come, for despite his losses Anson was determined to seize the treasure galleon that made the annual voyage from Acapulco to Manila. Laden with Peruvian silver, she was the ‘Prize of all the Oceans.’ In June 1743 Anson intercepted the Nuestra Señora de Covadonga, and in a 90-minute action forced her surrender. After refitting at Canton he returned home the next year to find himself compared with Drake, and his exploits with the long-remembered feats of arms against the Spain of Philip II. …

“‘In 1748 the long-awaited authorised account appeared under the name of Richard Walter, chaplain on the Centurion, and became a best-seller. Walter’s volume has formed the basis of all accounts of Anson’s voyage from the mid-eighteenth century to the present. The book, more fully illustrated than any similar work up to that time, was both a stirring story of adventure at sea and an exhortation to further Pacific enterprise” (Williams, Prize of all the Oceans: the Triumph and Tragedy of Anson’s Voyage Round the World).

This is a wonderful copy of one of the great voyage books, in its deluxe “royal paper” issue.