In 1791, Captain George Vancouver is given a great opportunity to gain fame and fortune—sail to the Pacific coast of North America and explore the coastline for the long-sought Northwest Passage back across the continent while taking possession of the vast territories of northwest America from the Spanish. Four years later, he returns home to dismissal and ridicule. He dies three years later at the age of forty, a sickly, impoverished man desperately trying to complete the publication of his journals. What happened?
Now, there are two large collections of rare books related to the early exploration of northwestern America coming to auction, a major event in the modern world of antiquarian books. Many dealers and individual collectors are positioning themselves to be the successful bidders. The centerpiece of the auctions is a heretofore unknown, astonishing copy of the journals of George Vancouver printed over two hundred years ago. How much will it sell for? Is this, in some way, a vindication of Vancouver, maybe even his vengeance?
The emergence of the special copy of Vancouver’s journals causes President Ray Cartwright to re-examine the unique Sir Francis Drake document he bought years ago. Is it really legitimate? How can he find out? What should he do if it’s a fake?