Pacific Images: Views from Captain Cook's Third Voyage. Second Edition. Nordyke, Eleanor C. 2008

Pacific Images: Views from Captain Cook's Third Voyage. Second Edition. Nordyke, Eleanor C. 2008

Nordyke, Eleanor C. 
Pacific Images: Views from Captain Cook's Third Voyage. 
Second Edition.
ISBN 978-1-883528-37-9.

The title page of this book also says "Engravings and descriptions from A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, volumes I, II, and II, and the Atlas by Captain James Cook and Captain James King, published as the official edition of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, in London, 1784."

The first edition was published in 1999 by the Hawaiian Historical Society1 and the book was put together in collaboration with James A. Mattison, Jr.2 The book reproduces all 61 engraved plates, made from John Webber's drawings, and three maps, published in the rare folio atlas accompanying the official report. Also included is the engraving of Cook's death added to the 1785 second edition of the atlas. The pictures are linked with their appropriate entries from the original text of the journals kept by Cook and his officers. Eleanor has added an introduction and biographical sketches of artist John Webber and the 25 engravers who rendered his drawings.

The difference with the second edition is explained on the title page: "Featuring stamps related to Captain James Cook and his voyages of discovery from the Ron V. Meads collection."3

What a great idea!

The text of the first edition had wide margins and these have been used to good purpose for the placing of the stamps, starting with the Foreword. Each stamp is captioned with its country of origin and the significance of its design, and nothing else, leaving the pages as clean and uncluttered as before. The stamps have been chosen well to highlight the text they accompany, and do not appear on the pages reproducing the engravings, leaving the beauty of those items to shine on their own.

Instead there is an extra section after the engravings where some of them are reproduced as small images along with some of the stamps that show the same picture. Thus the reader / viewer can compare how well the stamps portray the original and, sometimes, even two stamps showing the same thing.

For the stamp collector, there is a brief description of Ron Meads' stamp collection of 12 albums, and a list of the stamps featured from it. This list includes issue date, face value and the catalogue numbers from both Scott and Stanley Gibbons. There is a separate list of relevant stamp books, article and web sites, and (a nice touch) a list of stamps grouped by country.

The first edition of this book is difficult to get hold of these days, so this second edition is most welcome. The addition of the stamps has been done in such a way that anyone not interested in them won't find their presence intrusive, and might marvel at the beauty of some of the stamps that look like miniature paintings.

Nearly all the stamps are shown in mint condition, which is that favoured by thematic collectors, but there are a few in used state showing a postmark, which is a pity as all are easily obtainable in mint condition. They spoilt the visual look of the pages, and add no value.

The quality of the engraving reproduced in the book is superb. It is rare to find a modern book with so many. It is well worth purchasing for that reason alone.

My copy of the first edition is somewhat battered from over use, and I suspect the second edition will go the same way.

Ian Boreham


  1. Cook's Log, page 1682, vol. 22, no. 4 (1999).
  2. Cook's Log, page 1705, vol. 23, no. 1 (2000).
  3. Cook's Log, page 27, vol. 27, no. 2 (2004).

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 38, volume 32, number 2 (2009).

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