D’WOLF, Captain John (1779-1872). A Voyage to the North Pacific. Cambridge: Welch, Bigelow, and Company, 1861.

First edition, a presentation copy, of the voyage of Herman Melville's uncle. The Streeter copy. Inscribed on the title page: “To the Dorchester Antiquarian Society with the regards of John D’Wolf.” D’Wolf had only 100 copies printed of this work. It documents his voyage to Sitka and the subsequent journey to accompany Governor Alexander Baranov across Siberia back to St. Petersburg. D'Wolf, known as the adventurous "Nor'west John," was the husband of Melville's paternal aunt Mary (1778-1859). Melville would use D'Wolf's experiences as inspiration, writing in Chapter 45 of Moby-Dick that his uncle, "who, after a long life of unusual adventures as a sea captain, this day resides in the village of Dorchester near Boston." He quotes from the seventeenth chapter of Langsdorff's Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World (1813-14), which describes a ship commanded by D'Wolf. On its way to Okhotsk, on the northwest Pacific Coast near Russia, it encountered a "gigantic creature" that "raised the ship three feet at least out of the water. The masts reeled, and the sails fell altogether, while we who were below all sprang instantly upon the deck, concluding that we had struck upon some rock; instead we saw the monster sailing off with the utmost gravity and solemnity." Sabin 19883; Wickersham 6666.

Octavo (215 x 140mm). Printed wrappers (repair to upper edge of front wrapper, front joint splitting but holding, pen annotation ‘Box 16’ to upper cover). Provenance: Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society (authorial inscription and bookplate) – Goodspeed’s Book Shop, 1965 – Thomas Winthrop Streeter (bookplate; his sale, Parke-Bernet, 22 April 1969, lot 3526).
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