"IT IS NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE TO AVOID BEING THE HERO OF MY OWN STORY": ILLUSTRATED FIRST EDITION OF HANWAY'S TRAVELS THROUGH RUSSIA INTO PERSIA, 1753, A SUPERB COPY
HANWAY, Jonas. An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea: with a Journal of Travels from London through Russia into Persia; and back again through Russia, Germany and Holland. ISSUED WITH: The Revolutions of Persia. London: T. Osborne, D. Brown, et al., 1754. Four volumes. Quarto, contemporary full speckled calf rebacked, raised bands, burgundy morocco spine labels. $5800.
First edition of Hanway's engaging narrative of his "perilous adventures" in the Caspian mercantile trade through Europe, Russia and Persia, illustrated with engraved frontispieces in each volume, nine folding maps, 15 full-page engravings of views, persons and architecture, and numerous historiated headpieces.
Following an apprenticeship with a London merchant, Jonas Hanway partnered with an English commercial firm in St. Petersburg. Here Hanway became acquainted with the Caspian trade, and offered in 1743 to travel into Persia with a caravan of woollen goods. En route to Astrabad, his caravan was seized by Mohammed Hassan Beg, and "it was only after great privations that he reached the camp of Nadir Shah, under whose protection he recovered most of his property" (Roland Jayne). He returned to St. Petersburg in 1745 by the same route "after many perilous adventures" (Cox), including an attack by pirates, contracting a debilitating fever, and falling under quarantine for six weeks on the island of Caraza. After passing through Germany and Holland, he finally landed at Harwich in 1750. Hanway's Historical Account includes a report of these adventures. Hanway's companion history, The Revolutions of Persia (Volumes III and IV), traces the invasions of the Afghans through the revolution of the "usurper" Nadir Kouli. Cox I, 255-56. Brunet III, 38. Goldsmiths 8911. Kress 5357. Bookplates, early owner signatures.
Plates and text quite clean with two small holes to c2 in Volume I, expert paper repair to one plate in Volume II. Handsomely bound.