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Sale 2517 Lot 27
(ARCTIC.) Kane, Elisha Kent. The U.S. Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin. 3 maps, 13 plates, text illustrations. 552, 8 pages including publisher's ads. 8vo, publisher's gilt pictorial cloth, rebacked, minor wear; minor foxing, intermittent moderate dampstaining; later owner's signature on front flyleaf. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1853
Estimate $700 - 1,000
first edition, most of which were destroyed by fire. During the 1850-51 first Grinnell Expedition in search of Franklin, Kane served as the surgeon aboard the Advance, which was commanded by Edwin Jesse DeHaven.
The ten-building Harper & Brothers complex in lower Manhattan was consumed by a massive fire on 10 December 1853, with complete loss of their presses and unsold stock. The New York Times reported two days later: "Among the many new books which were consumed is Dr. Kane's History of his Arctic Explorations--a large octavo, profusely illustrated with engravings, which had been ready for some days, but was kept back until supply could be secured. We believe that Henry Grinnell, Esq. had received a copy of the work, so that it will not have to be rewritten as well as reissued."
Apparently not all copies of the book were lost. A copy was sold in 1996 at Kane Auctions with an inscription by the author's father, explaining that "it is one of the first edition, of which some 20 copies survived the fire." We know of at least 5 other examples which have sold at auction since. Arctic Bibliography 8381; Sabin 36998; TPL 3177.