FIRST EDITION OF BURTON’S SCARCE FALCONRY IN THE VALLEY OF THE INDUS, 1852, ONE OF ONLY 500 COPIES
BURTON, Richard F. Falconry in the Valley of the Indus. London: John Van Voorst, 1852. Slim octavo, original blind-stamped dark purple cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $7000.
First edition of “one of the earliest of Burton’s books of travel” (Abbey), one of only 500 copies, with four full-page lithographic plates (including frontispiece), in original blind-stamped cloth.
In 1842 Burton left Oxford to take a military commission in India. He worked as a surveyor and spy, mastering several Middle Eastern languages. In 1844, on a trek north to the Phuleli and Guni rivers of the Sind desert, Burton "found time to engage in some falconry… the postscript to the book gives one of the few pictures by Burton of the way in which he lived and worked among the natives" (Rice, 123). "One of the earliest of Burton's books of travel" (Abbey), Falconry is also notably one of a quartet of books based on his experiences in India that Burton compiled from his notes while on leave in Europe in 1850-51; the other books are Goa, and the Blue Mountains (1851), Scinde, or, the Unhappy Valley (1851) and Sindh, and the Races that Inhabit the Valley of the Indus (1852). "He was a born naturalist, and if he had pursued this line alone… he might have ranked among the greatest" (Rice, 109). Containing four full-page tinted lithographic plates after Joseph Wolf. With rear eight-page publisher's catalogue dated 1851: including two works listed as "just published" that cite reviews respectively dated "May 1st, 1852" and "April 26th, 1852." Penzer notes that in 1877 van Voorst wrote to Burton, stating that of the 500 copies issued, 257 remained unsold and suggested "scrapping" them. Penzer, 41. Spink 6. Abbey Travel 479. Early owner inscription dated "April 25th 1899."
Interior fresh and clean with light foxing mainly to early leaves, mild toning to bright gilt-lettered spine. A handsome about-fine copy in original cloth.