FORREST, Thomas (ca. 1729-1802) Voyage aux Moluques et à la Nouvelle Guinée, Fait sur la galère la Tartare en 1774, 1775 & 1776 par ordre de la Compagnie Angloise. Paris: Hôtel de Thou, 1780.

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FORREST, Thomas (ca. 1729-1802) Voyage aux Moluques et à la Nouvelle Guinée, Fait sur la galère la Tartare en 1774, 1775 & 1776 par ordre de la Compagnie Angloise. Paris: Hôtel de Thou, 1780.


4to., (10 x 8 inches). 28 plates, maps and plans, 8 of them folding, with Advertisement section, half title, title page (missing portrait, text block has deep impression throughout, some foxing). Contemporary calf skin in cat’s paw, 5 raised bands in six compartments, gilt floral tooling, red morocco lettering piece in one: “VOYAGE/AUX/MOLUQUE”, marbled edges with matching endpapers (cover with chipped corners, loss of spine at fore edge, minor hinge wear).

Provence: Early Biblio stamp with 19thc. Catalogue number on advertisement page.


First French edition, a fine and distinctive copy in fine condition. A meticulous “Carte de la Route du Vaisseau des Isles Moluques, Sooloos, Gilolo, Ceran, &c., &c.” opening this visually rich work. Incredible images of natives and surrounding country, with very detailed maps and corresponding coastal views. An early and important New Guinea voyage undertaken in the interests of the East India Company, with extensive mapping of the previously unsurveyed coasts. The text also includes a list of the vocabulary of the Magindano tongue as an appendix. A truly daring explorer, Thomas Forrest set out with only two English officers and a crew of eighteen Malays to set the groundwork to counter Dutch hegemony in the South Seas.

The East India Company investigated establishing a settlement or factory at Balambangan, an island just off the coast of Borneo, to offset the monopoly of the Dutch. “Here [Forrest] was given orders by the Company to explore the numerous but little-known and largely uncharted islands to the east… because of his extensive experience of conducting trading voyages in the area.” (DAMODARAN, Ed. The East India Company and the Natural World).

"In 1774, when the council, in accordance with their instructions and with a view to developing new sources of trade, desired to send an exploring party in the direction of New Guinea, Forrest offered his services. He sailed in the Tartar, a native boat […] accompanied in part of the time by two small boats, he pushed his explorations as far as Geelvink Bay in New Guinea, examining the Sulu archipelago, the south coast of Mindanao, Mandiolo, Batchian, and especially Waygiou, which he was the first to chart with any degree of accuracy. The voyage was one of examination and enquiry rather than of exploration, and the additions made to geographical knowledge were corrections of detail rather than startling discoveries, but the tact with which he conducted his intercourse with the natives, and the amount of work done in a small boat, deservedly won him credit as a navigator." (ODNB) Location note: For inquiries please contact Greg McMurray, MLS, Director, Rare Books.