“FIRST TRACED THE CONGO TO THE SEA”: SCARCE AMERICAN TESTIMONIAL BANQUET TO HENRY M. STANLEY, 1890, WITH VINTAGE PRINTS OF STANLEY AND HIS CHIEF OFFICERS
STANLEY, Henry M. The American Testimonial Banquet to Henry M. Stanley, In recognition of his Heroic Achievements in the cause of Humanity, Science & Civilization. London: no publisher, May 30, 1890. Octavo, original elaborately tooled full polished brown calf, patterned endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed in a custom chemise and clamshell box. $3000.
First edition of this scarce volume issued to those invited to the exclusive 1890 American Testimonial Banquet honoring explorer Henry Stanley, with five vintage prints of Stanley and his chief officers, each mounted on blue paper and tipped to heavy gilt-edged card stock.
Perhaps no European is more closely connected with Africa than Lord Stanley. His final journey to Africa as head of the 1887 Emin Pasha Relief Expedition was particularly exceptional in its terrible human cost, resulting in the death of “over 500 people directly connected with the expedition” (New York Times). Stanley and his officers “Jephson, Parke, Stairs” and Nelson covered hundreds of miles and “marched in “grim conditions” with a “steady trickle of thefts and desertions, interspersed with attacks by tribesmen… Every day several men died of starvation” (Jeal, 342). Yet Stanley still managed to compile important data on the Pygmies and discovered the Ruwenzori, or “Mountains of the Moon.” The perilous journey nearly cost Stanley his life and ended sadly when Emin Pasha expressed anger at Stanley’s interference, ultimately refusing to leave Africa. This handsome programme, issued to those invited to an exclusive May 30, 1890 American Testimonial Banquet held in London some time after Stanley’s return, points to his signal importance as explorer, adventurer and a hero of the Victorian era. With copies likely limited to the 400 or so people at the affair, this lavish volume contains five vintage prints—of Stanley and his chief officers Stairs, Parke, Nelson and Jephson—all in attendance. Each print, measuring 3-1/2 by 5-1/2 inches, is mounted on pale blue cards displaying captions, signature facsimiles and tipped to heavy gilt-edged card stock. The elaborately tooled and embossed programme also contains a list of committee members and honorary stewards, including James Whistler, P.T. Barnum and Bret Harte, as well as a tipped-in plate of “Shield and Medallions” and accompanying description, along with the evening’s menu, music programme and “Toast List.” With laid-in invitation card (measuring 5 by 6-1/2 inches) completed in manuscript to admit a “Dr. A.J. Comer,” with the “No. 100” at the upper left corner crossed out and “99” written above.
Interior and prints generally fresh with only lightest scattered foxing, joints reinforced. A near-fine copy, scarce.