Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, In the Years 1819, 20, 21, and 22, with an Appendix on Various Subjects Relating to Science and Natural History, By John Franklin, Captain R.N., F.R.S. & Commander of the Expedition, First Edition, Published by John Murray, London (1823) (very good condition, please see condition notes below)


First edition of the narrative of an expedition that started from the shores of Hudson’s Bay, by land, to explore the Northern Coast of America from the mouth of the Coppermine River eastward, with interesting details on Native American tribes encountered, and much valuable material in the field of natural history. The book includes 4 large folding maps and 30 plates, 11 of which are hand colored or aquatints. The plates include a full-page illustration of the lay-out of an igloo and the depictions of arctic scenery have been described as of “great beauty” and “of a superior kind.”  The plates were engraved by Finden, from drawings by Lieutenants Hood and Back.  The book is rebound in the style of the period, with half sprinkled calf, black morocco label and gilt on spine. There are minor pencil notes in blank margins and spaces and some underlining. Light browning and foxing, but overall a fine copy.


The Arctic explorer John Franklin (1786-1847) was commanded the British expedition organized by the Royal Navy as part of an effort to discover and map the northern part of America with the goal of amending the known geography and establishing the longitudes and latitudes of the northern coast to the eastern extremities of the continent.  The party was small.  It started overland from York Factory to the Copper Mine River and the Polar Sea, across the Barren Grounds to Fort Enterprise.  The journey was marked by great privations and sufferings.  Although the Arctic coast was reached, the group explored only about 500 miles before the lack of supplies and approach of winter forced the expedition to turn back. Almost half of the group died, with rumors of murder and cannibalism ripe.  The survival of the remainder is attributed to the untiring determination George Back, who would become a significant Arctic explorer in his own right, and the help of a local tribe.  As a result of the measures he reportedly took when starving, Captain Franklin became known as “the man who ate his boots.”  


Doctor John Richardson, the appointed surgeon and naturalist of the expedition, was commissioned to collect specimens of minerals, plants and animals, and contributed notices on fishes he found, geognostical observations, remarks on the aurora etc.; these observations on science and natural history are included in an Appendix to the book.


This version of the book does not include the Errata slip and instead of the original fourth map includes one with the title “An Outline to shew the Connected Discoveries of Captains Ross, Parry, and Franklin, in the years 1818, 19, 20 and 21." (


Rebound in style of the period, half sprinkled calf, back morocco label and gilt on spine.  Small number of pencil notes in blank margins and spaces and very minor underlinings.  Light bronwing and foxing on some pages; photos of two of the most significant marks are included.  A samll (less than half inch) tear on one page of the introduction.  Overall a fine copy. 

Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, 1819, 20, 21 & 22

SKU: S-044