I Married Adventure - Osa Johnson

1940 - J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia - First Edition
‘”We're going round the world, Osa!” – Heady stuff for a dainty little Kansas girl, who had married at sixteen a handsome film photographer just back from the exotic South Seas. Osa Johnson would have been quite happy to keep home and settle down – she had never been further than thirty miles from the house she was born – but Martin Johnson and their whirlwind romance so bowled her over that all she could answer was “Well -– all right, dear”.'  – Jane Robinson, Wayward Women.

A lovely copy in the fantastic Zebra print boards. The real life travel exploits of husband and wife adventurers Martin and Osa Johnson, this is a lively memoir relaying their journeys from Borneo, to Kenya and the Congo.

A best seller when it first appeared in 1940, its wonderful observations of nature and heart-stopping narrative are accompanied by scores of striking photographs of the Johnsons’ exotic destinations.
 
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Price HK$ 2,500



Voyage dans les Mers de l'Inde - Guillaume Joseph Le Gentil de la Galaisière

1779 - Imprimerie Royale, Paris - First Edition
‘Two monumental volumes... crammed with details on astronomy, navigation, and natural history... His descriptions of life in Manila, Pondicherry, and Madagascar are invaluable’ (Dunmore).

‘In addition to the scientific details for which the voyage was undertaken, the first volume treats of the manners, customs, and religion or the people of the Malabar Coast and of the astronomy of the Brahmins. The second volume contains elaborate accounts of the Philippine Islands, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Bourbon and their inhabitants, including views and charts of the Philippines. Le Gentil gives details of the Islands, their climate, volcanoes, fertility, fruits, birds, animals, peoples, language, history, and description of Manila, the government, ecclesiastical and civil, commerce, &c.’ (Edwards).

A stunning set In contemporary bindings and illustrated with twenty seven folding copper engravings showing two world maps, maps charts and plans of Eastern and Western Philippines, Bay of Manila, Philippine Harbours, Manilla, Madagascar and it’s coastline, Isle de France (Mauritius), Isle de Bourbon (Réunion), Quartier S. Denis on Réunion, Eastern and Western Straits of Malacca, and Pondicherry. Together with engraved plates of animals and plant life, the ruins of Pondicherry, pagodas, Indian deities, and charts of comets and constellations.
 
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Price HK$ 55,000



Egyptian Sketches - Jeremiah Lynch

1890 - Edward Arnold, London - First Edition
A fine copy of this work, far more a view of Egypt and description of a wealthy expatriate lifestyle there, and not a particularly academic treatise, illustrated with sixteen black and white photographic plates. Despite Lynch’s descriptions of dancing girls, parties and the taking of a ‘temporary wife’, this particular copy was gifted to a Mr. Edwin Harcourt from the Teachers of the Cecil St. Wesleyan Sunday School!

Egyptian Sketches was slated hugely by the New York Times on publication in 1890. Lynch mentions a friend of his whose description seems to have caused the New York Times to erupt in moral outrage:- ‘Men like this young American account to a large extent for the exaggerated notions of our wealth that prevail in Egypt. He had taken a house in the native quarter of Cairo and there he entertained his friends handsomely. He does not appear to have minded paying $75 for four dancing women and the players on instruments who entertained his guests for a few hours. Nor did his morals prevent him from taking for a temporary wife the daughter of a Turk who had been killed at Tel-el-Kebir. This was done with the understanding that after three months, according to Moslem law, he could put his wife away. With her to this American’s house went also her sister and her mother.’

Anyway, it is a good read and is clearly written by someone with both sympathies for the locals and their history, and for his own expat lifestyle, during a time of great unrest and political upheaval.
 
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Price HK$ 2,500



Across East African Glaciers - Hans Meyer

1891 - George Philip & Son, London - First Edition in English
A superb example of the first edition, in the publisher’s original and first state illustrated cover highlighting the snow in white and additional colour to the tents and clearing, described by Neate as ‘a most handsome volume’. With mounted chromolithographed frontispiece, three folding colour maps, eight mounted photographic plates, and twelve photogravures

‘Hans Meyer was a geologist and experienced climber who made four trips to the Kilimanjaro region in 1887-1889 culminating in his successful ascent – the first undisputed summit of Kibo, 19,340 feet, the highest of the mountain's three peaks – in 1889. In an earlier attempt, Meyer and his companion Oscar Baumann had the misfortune to arrive in the midst of an Arab revolt against German traders on the East African coast. They were captured and held hostage until a substantial ransom was paid. Meyer's ultimate success has been attributed to his recognition that the greatest obstacle to achieving the summit was the lack of food in the upper regions. He brought a sizeable and well organized party and established several camps on the mountain, allowing him to make multiple attempts at the summit without descending to the base. His lively and highly readable account of the expedition is arguably the most important work on African mountaineering.’ -
Walkabout Books. 
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Price HK$ 40,000



Social and Diplomatic Memories 1884-1893 - Sir James Rennell Rodd G.C.B.

1922 - Edward Arnold & Co., London - Second Impression
The autobiography of 1st Bron Rennell (1858-1941), British diplomat, poet (Oscar Wilde assisted in publishing Rodd’s first book of poems), politician, and scholar of ancient Greece and Rome.

Covering the early years from his childhood, the ‘Balliol set’, and young Bohemian adulthood, to his first posting in Berlin from 1884 to 1888, where he became an intimate friend of the Empress Frederick, and recounts his memories of Bismark and other major figures during that tumultuous time, after this he moves on to Greece, Italy, France, and finally Zanzibar and East Africa at the end of the 19th century.

Finely bound and with a four page hand-written letter from his wife to an ‘unknown friend’, composed at the British Legation, Athens in February 1928.
 
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Price HK$ 2,000