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NARES, Captain Sir George S. (1831-1915). . Journals and Proceedings of the Arctic Expedition, 1875-6.
London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office, 1877. First Edition With a Carte de Viste Photograph of Nares. Folio. vii, 484 pp. With text illustrations plus nine uncolored maps (seven folding), seven colored maps (six folding), and sixteen plates (twelve folding). Period navy patterned gilt lettered full cloth. A near fine copy. With a Carte de Viste Photograph of Nares produced by J. Griffin & Co. London ca. 1878. This work is the official British government report of the Arctic Expedition of 1876- 7 commanded by Captain George S. Nares. The expedition's primary objective was to attain the highest northern latitude and, if possible, to reach the North Pole, and from winter quarters to explore the adjacent coasts within the reach of traveling parties. The expedition was the first to sail ships through the channel between Greenland and Ellesmere Island and as far north as the Lincoln Sea. A sledging party under Captain Albert Hastings Markham also set a new record on land, reaching as far north as 83° 20'. The "British Arctic expedition of 1875-6, in the vessels Alert and Discovery, [had] the chief aim of which was to reach the north pole. Reports of the American expeditions of Isaac Israel Hayes, 1860-61, and C. F. Hall, 1870-73, had revived the belief in an open polar sea and suggested that land extended far to the north, west of Robeson Channel. Both these theories proved to be wrong, but at the time they indicated the Smith Sound route as the best line of advance to the pole. The vessels sailed on 29 May 1875 and reached winter quarters on the coast of Grinnell Land (Ellesmere Island), the Discovery in latitude 81°44' N., and the Alert, with Nares, in latitude 82°27' N ¿the most northerly point hitherto reached in the Canadian Arctic¿ (Levere, 281). The following spring sledge parties were sent out. That led by Lieutenant Pelham Aldrich of the Alert explored the north coast of Ellesmere Island westwards. They reached its most northerly point (Cape Columbia) and continued to Cape Alfred Ernest (Alert Point) before turning back, having charted some 400 km of new coastline (Hattersley-Smith, 121). Lieutenant Lewis A. Beaumont of the Discovery followed the coast of Greenland northwards to Sherard Osborn Fjord. Meanwhile, a party led by Commander A. H. Markham of the Alert struck out over the ice in an attempt to get to the pole. They reached 83°20' N, a heroic achievement considering that the pack ice was extremely rough, and also drifting south almost as fast as they were travelling northwards. Their experience and an outbreak of scurvy affecting both ships led Nares to call off the entire expedition and return home early, in the late summer of 1876" (Oxford DNB). This official work includes reports of the expedition's two ships, the Alert and the Discovery, and various autumn 1875 and spring 1876 traveling parties (including journals of the various sledge parties). The volume provides incredible detail concerning the daily activities and experience of the expedition, including descriptions of the ice, weather, wildlife, vegetation, and the health and activities of the members of the expedition. The appendix (Nares' report on the quality and quantity of the provisions) is also of great interest, noting which supplies were particularly worthwhile and which items were useless. Howgego 1850-1940, Polar Regions N6. Bookseller Inventory # 000249