CHASE, Owen (1797-1869). Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex ... which was attacked and finally destroyed by a large Spermaceti-whale. New York: W.B. Gilley, 1821.

The extremely rare first edition of the first authentic account of the ramming and sinking of a ship by a whale. The captain and crew then suffered for three months at sea, in open boats. Twelve of the crew of twenty died during this ordeal, the remainder surviving by cannibalism. Chase's graphic narrative was pivotal in Melville's research and he made extensive notes on it. "He cites [the story of the Essex] in Chapter 45 of Moby-Dick, 'The Affidavit,' as corroborating 'the most marvellous event in this book' (p. 181), meaning the sinking of the Pequod" (Sealts, p. 69). The quote from this work above appears in Moby-Dick as one of the "Extracts". Hill, p. 50; Howes C-318 ("c") Huntress 107; Sabin 12189.

12mo. Uncut in original blue boards (rebacked, original endpapers preserved, endpapers dampstained, some very pale dampstaining to text). Custom clamshell box. Provenance: Frederick E. Ellis, Shaw Island (bookplate).
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