KEATE, George. An Account Of The Pelew Islands, Situated In The Western Part Of The Pacific Ocean. Composed From The Journals And Communications Of Captain Henry Wilson, And Some Of his Officers, Who, In August 1783, Were There Shipwrecked, In The Antelope, a packet belonging to the Honourable East India Company. London, Printed For Captain Wilson; And Sold By G. Nicol, Bookseller To His Majesty, Pall-Mall, 1788.
4to. Slightly later full calf, spine with raised bands, lettered and ornamented in gilt, boards with gilt-ruled double fillets and gilt-stamped anchors in the corners, inner dentelles gilt, marbled endpapers (see below); pp. xxvii, , 378, two stipple-engraved portraits, engraved folding map, engraved folding panorama, 13 engraved plates (including one map, and one further portrait); hinges, head and tail of spine expertly restored; light wear to extremities; very minor spotting to the paper in places only; a very good and wide-margined copy; provenance: slightly later armorial bookplate of George W. Galloway with his motto Higher inside front cover.
Second edition, corrected, published shortly after the first, which needed an errata leaf at the end. In 1783 the Antelope, commanded by Capt. Henry Wilson, ran onto a reef near one of the Palau Islands, a previously unexplored group, and was wrecked. The entire crew managed to get safely ashore, where they were well treated by the natives and eventually managed to build a small vessel from the wreck, in which they reached Macao. They took Prince Lee Boo, one of King Abba Thulle's sons, with them to England, where he made a very good impression; he unfortunately soon died of smallpox. Keate, a literary man, composed the account from journals and communications of Capt. Wilson and some of the officers. Among the crew on board the Antelope was the eminent artist Arthur William Devis, who contributed two portraits, that of the king of Pelew and of one of his wives. He had been injured during a Papuan attack prior to the ship being wrecked. Wilson returned with the first collection of Palau artifacts to reach the West, and his illustrated travelogue fitted well in with the concept of the 'noble savage'.
Binding and provenance: This maritime-themed binding was produced by one of the foremost fine binders of the period, Auguste Marie Compte de Caumont of Frith Street (printed label inside front fly-leaf), who had left revolutionary France and set up a book binding studio at three successive addresses in Soho, finally at No. 1 Frith Street (1803-1814), where he employed talented and famous craftsmen, such as L. Cordeval and C. S. Kalthoeber. The compartments of the spine contain finely gilt-stamped images of a three-mast ship, and in the corners of the covers anchors, inscribed Nile & C and Nelson. The spine bears the date 1783, the year the expedition took place. We can only speculate that Nile & C (Nile & Company) could refer to either the company of men that served under Nelson at the battle of the Nile, or specifically the Captains of the ships known as the Band of Brothers.
ESTC T121539; Hill p160.