Boston: Wm. C. Hill, 1844. First Edition. First printing. Octavo (18.5cm). In original full brown calf, with six double gilt rules to spine, titled in gilt on spine label, edges sprinkled brown; plain endpapers; [1-5] 6-240pp. Lacking binder's blanks at front and rear, but otherwise complete. An upright and sound copy, binding rubbed, boards slightly splayed, small circular patch of distressed leather on rear board, minor losses to both pastedowns, scattered internal foxing, but text otherwise unsoiled: Good or better.
An uncommon early Antarctic narrative, in the original publisher's binding. Smith traveled to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, and the South Shetland Islands on multiple whaling and seal hunting voyages in the early nineteenth century. His "visit to the South Shetland Islands aboard the schooner Hetty during the austral summer of 1820 took place only a year after the islands' discovery: Smith's narrative constitutes one of the earliest known—and, for that matter, one of the only—published accounts of the sealing activities there" (Rosove).
Smith was "one of the very few literate 'below decks' men from the sealing period of Antarctic history," and his account is both a rich historical resource and a compelling dramatic yarn (Dictionary of Falklands Biography). He describes a variety of adventures, such as subsisting exclusively on penguin meat during one of his five shipwrecks (Jeff Rubin, "Train Oil and Snotters: Eating Antarctic Wild Foods," Gastronomica 3.1, Winter 2003). He also claims to have drunk terrapin blood in the Galapagos, escaped pirates off the coast of Peru, and encountered cannibals in New Zealand.
Rosove writes that the book is "so rare and little known" that it was "overlooked by all Antarctic bibliographers except Spence," as well as by the Bibliography of American Imprints to 1901 (p.401). HOWES S 679. FORSTER 86. ROSOVE 312.