"ONE OF THE FINEST SCIENTIFIC TRAVEL BOOKS EVER WRITTEN": WALLACE'S THE MALAY ARCHIPELAGO, RARE FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL CLOTH
WALLACE, Alfred Russel. The Malay Archipelago: The Land of the Orang-Utan, and the Bird of Paradise. London: Macmillan, 1869. Two volumes. Octavo, original gilt-stamped green cloth.
First edition of Wallace's classic account of his journey to the Malay Archipelago, "on the basis of artistic format, literary style, and scientific merit, clearly one of the finest scientific travel books ever written" (DSB).
"Since he had not solved the perplexing question of how species evolve while in the Amazon region [1848-52], Wallace decided to venture once more to the tropics, this time to Southeast Asia and the Malay Archipelago. Securing passage on a government vessel, Wallace departed in 1854 for explorations that lasted eight years and covered between 14,000 and 15,000 miles. The boundaries of the range of his explorations were the Aru Islands to the east; Malacca, Malaya, to the west; the northern tip of Celebes to the north; and as far south as southern Timor. The enormous quantity of materials gathered there—about 127,000 specimens of natural history—enabled him to publish scores of fundamental scientific papers on a broad range of topics. These works alone would have established him as one of the greatest English naturalists of his age, but his classic natural history book, The Malay Archipelago, earned him an international reputation that has endured to this day. On the basis of artistic format, literary style, and scientific merit, it is clearly one of the finest scientific travel books ever written. From his first arrival in the Malayan region Wallace had decided to gather precise scientific data on groups of animals in order to work out their geographical distribution and consequently to throw light on their origins through evolutionary processes. He kept a notebook on evolution, here designated as his 'Species Notebook.' His first explicit, published evolutionary statements drew on those materials" (DSB). Complete with wood-engraved frontispieces and six engraved plates, two lithographed folding maps tracing Wallace's journey, and numerous in-text maps and illustrations. With publisher's ads dated December 1868 in Volume I. Plate at Volume II, p. 41, actually bound at p. 176. Norman 2176. Bookplate of Colonel William Slaney Kenyon-Slaney, a long-serving MP who remains best known as the first player ever to score a goal in an international soccer match. Contemporary ink library signatures. Binder ticket.
Interiors generally fine with only a few spots of foxing, a bit of expert restoration to bindings, slightest rubbing to gilt, cloth quite bright. Near-fine condition.