Gillis, Lieut. James M. The U.S. Naval Astronomical Expedition To The Southern Hemisphere, During The Years 1849-52. House Exc. Doc. 121, 33rd Cong., 1st Sess., Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson, Printer, 1855. Quarto, 2 volumes. Volume l. devoted principally to Chile. pp. xiii, 2, 556, frontispiece, very large panoramic folding view of Santa Lucia, 3 large folding maps, 1 single-page map, 3 single-page plans, 5 lithographed plates and a beautifully colored chromolith plate of an Araucanian chief. Volume ll devoted to the Andes and the Pampas, pp x, 300, one folding map of Argentina, 1 single page map, and 35 plates depicting the animal, fish and reptile life of the area, three are full color plates depicting the basketry and other textiles of the native populations and fifteen are beautiful full color plates depicting native bird species.
The set is complete and in the original half calf and marbled boards, calf spine labels and gilt titles. Light wear and scuffing to boards and edges, text and plates with very minor marginal toning. A very clean set.
An American naval officer; Gilliss (1811-1865), was an astronomer and founder of the Naval Observatory. He led this expedition to South America, This was the third American Naval Scientific expedition; the first was that of Charles Wilkes to the Pacific and the second that of William Francis Lynch to the Holy Land. These scientific expeditions were notable successes with each resulting in important discoveries and the publication of popular works. This expedition went overland to Panama City and then via the South Pacific to Callao, Valparaiso, and Santiago. A subsidiary expedition was sent to explore northern Chile as far as La Paz, Bolivia. This work also includes studies of antiquities including pottery. His responsibilities included making astronomical observations necessary for longitude determinations of newly explored land.