THE "WILD GRANDEUR… AND THE RUDE MAGNIFICENCE": SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF ACERBI'S TRAVELS THROUGH SWEDEN, FINLAND, AND LAPLAND, TO THE NORTH CAPE, 1802, WITH 16 SPLENDID HAND-COLORED PLATES AND A LARGE FOLDING MAP
ACERBI, Joseph. Travels Through Sweden, Finland, and Lapland, To the North Cape, In the years 1798 and 1799. London: Joseph Mawman, 1802. Two volumes. Quarto, contemporary three-quarter brown calf and marbled boards, raised bands, brown spine labels. $2000.
First edition of Italian naturalist and explorer Acerbi’s handsome two-volume work on his Travels through much of Scandinavia from 1798-99, including his journey to the North Cape, “which no Italian had previously visited,” with 16 splendid hand-colored plates (including engraved frontispiece portrait), 12 pages of engraved music and a large folding map.
In the 18th century, when foreign travelers rarely ventured to Scandinavia, Italian-born Giuseppe (Joseph) Acerbi, in 1798, "undertook a journey through Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Lapland, and in the following year he reached the North Cape, which no Italian had previously visited… On his return Acerbi stayed for some time in England, and published his Travels" (Encyclopaedia Britannica). In his preface, Acerbi writes he was drawn by the "wild grandeur… and the rude magnificence" of the region. For part of the journey he was accompanied by Swedish Col. A.F Skjöldebrand, who was instructed by the King to map "or at least gain a better understanding of, the Tornio river valley and the more remote regions" of Sweden. After the two departed ways, Acerbi continued on, recording "hundreds of pages of observations on the Sámi people. He noted their music, their language, the clothing and customs… In 1803, Skjöldebrand published his version of the journey, Voyage Pittoresque au Cap Nord" (O'Donnell, Around the World in 80 Years). On returning home, in 1816 Acerbi began the Milan literary review, Biblioteca Italiana, and later served as Austrian consul-general in Egypt. Volume I with hand-colored frontispiece portrait of Acerbi from a painting by Violet, engraved by P.W. Tompkins, and six hand-colored plates; Volume II with hand-colored frontispiece of a "Finlander attacking a Bear," eight hand-colored plates, and large folding map (measures 23 by 24-inches), along with Appendix featuring 12 plates of music from Lapland, Finland and Norway, engraved by E. Riley, and Acerbi's travel journal.
Text and plates generally fresh with a bit of expert cleaning to preliminaries, early archival reinforcement to verso of large folding map, light expert restoration to contemporary binding. A handsome near-fine copy.