FIRST EDITION OF PLAYFAIR’S TRAVELS IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BRUCE IN ALGERIA AND TUNIS, WITH LARGE FOLDING HAND-COLORED MAP OF ALGERIA AND TUNIS AND 29 ENGRAVED PLATES
PLAYFAIR, Robert Lambert. Travels in the Footsteps of Bruce in Algeria and Tunis. London: C. Kegan Paul, 1877. Folio (10-1/2 by 13 inches), original black- and gilt-stamped pictorial green cloth, all edges gilt. $1400.
First edition of travel narrative chronicling Sir Playfair’s attempt to replicate the North African journey of Major Cumming Bruce, with large folding map of Algeria and Tunis with hand-colored outlines, map of Bruce’s route, 29 engraved plates, and several in-text illustrations, in original pictorial cloth-gilt.
This work details Sir Robert Lambert Playfair’s successful attempt to follow in the footsteps of African adventurer Major Cumming Bruce by taking a journey through Algeria and Tunisia. This work contains 29 plates after drawings by Bruce, meant to enrich Playfair’s narrative by showing the relationship between the travels undertaken by the two men and their particular interest in African antiquities. Playfair developed his initial interest in Bruce as he was the successor to Bruce’s administrative posting in Algeria, albeit separated in the job by a century. Prior to that point, Playfair had a long history of both military and administrative work. He began his career serving in India in the Madras artillery and the Madras staff corps, then was transferred to Zanzibar, before he ultimately chose to retire from military service as a lieutenant-colonel. From that point forward, Playfair accepted a number of international postings, participating in a quasi-political mission to Syria, working in a long-term administrative position at Aden, and fulfilling a humanitarian role in Arabia and Somaliland. Playfair traveled extensively and improved his language skills, eventually becoming consul-general in Algeria, then consul-general for Algeria and Tunis, and finally consul-general for the territory of Algeria and the northern coast of Africa. He used his extensive experience to write about the region, publishing a variety of works on history, travel, and even bibliography. This work reflects not only Playfair’s vast knowledge about North Africa, but also his love for the region.
A beautiful copy in fine condition.