“EXTRAORDINARY KNOWLEDGE OF THE OVERLAND EASTERN TRADE”: 1684 ILLUSTRATED COLLECTED EDITION IN ENGLISH OF TAVERNIER’S TRAVELSTAVERNIER, [Jean-Baptiste]. Collections of Travels through Turky into Persia, and the East-Indies… Together with a Relation of the Kingdom of Japan and Tunkin… To which is Added a New Description of the Present Grand Seignior’s Seraglio…. London: Moses Pitt, 1684. Two volumes bound in one. Small, thick folio, period-style full paneled calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, red morocco spine label, marbled endpapers. $8800.Early collected edition in English of these engaging early accounts of trade with the East, translated by John Phillips, and illustrated with 37 copper-engravings—many folding—of views, inhabitants, animals, money and precious stones. Handsomely bound.
Collections of Travels
Inspired by the maps in his father’s engraving studio, French merchant and pioneer gem-trader Jean-Baptiste Tavernier made six extended journeys to the East between 1631 and 1668—then spent the rest of his life writing about them. His long stays in the East gave him “an extraordinary knowledge of the routes of overland Eastern trade” and enabled him to amass a great fortune. For his efforts he was awarded a title from Louis XIV who, it is believed, also prompted him to write about his experiences because “in all that referred to commerce his knowledge was vast and could not fail to be of much public service” (Britannica
). First published separately in 1676-77, this collected edition of Tavernier’s accounts provides descriptions of India, Persia, and the Tartar and Turkish Empires, the latter actually based upon the memoirs of his brother. Tavernier’s writing show “a greater compass of thought and a more masterly turn in his observations than in almost any other book of the kind… His work was especially valuable at the time for its information on trade and trade routes, diamonds and mines” (Cox). He was among the very few, for example, who had ever seen the famous Koh-i-noor diamond (“The Mountain of Light”), weighing an astounding 793 carats in its uncut state. Tavernier also gives practical advice on trading with the East Indies and criticizes the trading practices of the Dutch in Asia, which prompted fierce responses from Jurieu and van Quellenburg. A popular author, Tavernier’s works were widely reprinted and translated and generated considerable European interest in East Asia. Gibbon praised him as “that wandering jeweler, who had read nothing, but had seen so much and so well.” First published separately in French in 1676-77, and in English under the title The Six Voyages of Jean Baptiste Tavernier in 1677-78, reissued in 1680, making this the third edition in English overall. Both title pages present. Wing T251, 252. Cox I, 275-76. See Wilson, 223; Howgego T14; Severin, 104-13. Early owner signature on title page, dated 1698, and first leaf of text.Title page rehinged. Repaired closed tear to first leaf of Contents (leaf A). Faint marginal dampstain along lower edge of first several leaves; occasional foxing; last leaves of text cleaned with some minor marginal restoration. Handsome period-style calf-gilt binding fine.