“THE SECOND LORD ELGIN”: SALT’S VOYAGE TO ABYSSINIA, 1814 FIRST EDITION WITH NUMEROUS MAPS AND ENGRAVINGS
(EAST AFRICA) SALT, Henry. A Voyage to Abyssinia, and Travels into the Interior of that Country, Executed… in the Years 1809 and 1810. London: F.C. and J. Rivington, 1814. Large quarto, contemporary full diced brown calf rebacked, black morocco spine label, raised bands, original marbled endpapers and edges. $4800.
First edition of this fascinating travel narrative, chronicling Salt’s expeditions across Egypt and Ethiopia, illustrated with two vignettes and 34 splendid copper-engraved plates and maps (four folding, one hand-colored), in contemporary calf boards.
The renowned English diplomat archaeologist Henry Salt initially studied as a painter, and it was his artistic talents that “recommended him to the collector George Annesley, Viscount of Valentia, who took him on a tour of the East in 1802-06, during which he visited Egypt, Ethiopia and India. In 1809-10 Salt returned to Ethiopia as a quasi-official envoy under Canning’s sponsorship, marching from the Red Sea coast with an escort of 160 bearers to explore trade and diplomatic links with the Ethiopian emperor Wolde Selassie. Britain, fearing a French alliance with Egypt, wished to secure a port on the Red Sea. Salt carried out a little archaeology, discovering at Aksum three large Ethiopian inscriptions,” and documenting his work in this impressive volume (Howgego II:S6). Salt’s role in three key excavations (Belzoni, Caviglia, and d’Athanasi) yielded splendid collections of Egyptian antiquities, many of which are now in the British Museum (Clayton, 44). In 1815 Salt was appointed Consul-General in Egypt and a year later, together with John Burckhardt, employed Giovanni Baptista Belzoni to remove the colossal bust of Rameses II from Thebes (now also in the British Museum). For this Salt was hailed as “the second Lord Elgin.” Voyage to Abyssinia includes “particulars respecting the aboriginal African tribes, extending from Mosambique to the borders of Egypt” and a lengthy glossary of local languages. The numerous full-page illustrations are made by Charles Heath from original sketches by Salt, and include “perhaps the earliest printed illustration of hippo shooting” (Czech), which took place on the River Tacazzi. Blackmer 1479. Gay 184. Czech, African Big Game Hunting, 141. Old bookbinder ticket to front pastedown.
Large folding hand-colored map reinforced along fold on verso, infrequent spotting to text. A very good copy in an attractive binding.