Patagonians using gourds that serve as makeshift diving helmets are seen walking underwater in this extraordinary plate from a 1767 copy of A Journal of a Voyage Round the World in His Majesty’s Ship The Dolphin… that Thomson Roddick sold for £750.

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A copy in a rebacked calf binding that lacked a map and had some other shortcomings, it sold for £750 as part of a June 15 auction.

The title page states that it was written “…by an Officer on Board the said Ship” and this was originally assumed to have been her commander, John Byron, a British naval officer and explorer who had earned the nickname ‘Foul-Weather Jack’ for the number of times he seems to have encountered fearful conditions at sea.

It is, however, a work that has more recently been attributed to Charles Clerke, a midshipman on that voyage who later sailed with Captain James Cook.

Byron, it seems, had been tasked with finding a base for British interests in the southern Atlantic region.

This was kept secret to avoid conflict with Spanish authorities on the South American mainland, but this is also a work that later provoked considerable interest that derived from its description of a race of ‘giant’ people living in Patagonia.

An extraordinary plate from that Journal…, illustrating Patagonians using gourds as a form of diving helmet, is seen in an accompanying illustration.

South American focus

There were a number of other lots of South American interest on offer. Bid to £950 was an 1819 first, in a re-backed calf binding, of the 1819 first edition of Gustavus Hippisley’s Narrative of the Expedition to the Rivers Orinoco & Apuré in South America….

A copy in a rebacked calf binding of Pedro Lozano’s …Relation of the Dreadful Earthquake which happen’d at Lima, the Capital of Peru, a work of 1748 illustrated with a map and eight folding plates, was sold at £400.


A 1892, second edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four, £400 at Thomson Roddick.

Among purely literary lots in the sale was an 1892, second edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Fourthat brought a bid of £400.