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BELCHER, Sir Edward (1799–1877). The Last of the Arctic Voyages. London: Lovell Reeve, 1855.

2 volumes, 8vo. (Few closed tears to select pages, some offsetting). Half-titles, frontispieces with tissue guards, 36 plates including 12 color lithographed plates, 4 maps and charts with 3 fold-out, wood engravings in text, tables; index with 24 pp. of publisher’s advertisements. Original dark blue decorative cloth gilt (spines rebacked, some surface rubbing to covers). Provenance: “Washburn” (inscription on front free endpaper of each volume).

FIRST EDITION. Accompanied by five ships, Sir Edward Belcher set out from the Nore in April 1852 on the last publicly-funded expedition to find and rescue Sir John Franklin, who had disappeared five years previously. Ultimately Belcher was forced to abandon four of his five ships and return to England, where he was court-martialed though later acquitted. This expedition was the first to utilize photography, with illustrations used in the book created from the resulting exposures.

UNIQUE ASSOCIATION COPY WITH THE INSCRIPTION: “FROM THE LIBRARY OF AMELIA EARHART / BOUGHT FROM PUTNAMS FEB. 1940.” This book is believed to have been the property of the famous Washburn exploration family, who were friends of Amelia Earhart and her husband, publisher George Putnam. Bradford Washburn was briefly considered by Earhart to accompany her as navigator on her ill-fated attempt to circumnavigate the globe; Washburn ultimately demurred as he felt that Earhart’s expedition was not properly prepared. Abbey Travel 645; Arctic Bibliography 1241; Books on Ice 5.8a; Hill p. 21; National Maritime Museum Catalog I, 921; Sabin 4389; TPL 3409.

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