4to (285 x 197mm), pp. XII, 458, [2 (colophone with publisher’s device, verso blank)]; title printed in red and black, and with vignette after Albert Pépin, 41 plates on integral ll., illustrations, and head- and tailpieces, all after Pépin, and one folding colour-printed lithographic map; some light spotting, some burn- and waxmarks; contemporary French half red hard-grain morocco gilt over marbled boards, spine gilt in compartments, lettered directly in one, others decorated with floral and foliate tools, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt, other uncut; extremities slightly rubbed and bumped, a few light marks, endpapers and flyleaves browned, otherwise a very good set; provenance: Gaston Passemard, 1889 (ownership inscription on front flyleaf).
US $668 €567
First edition. The French orientalist and explorer Bonvalot (1853-1933) made his first expedition into Central Asia in 1880, and undertook a second journey into the area with the artist Pépin and the physician and scientist Guillaume Capus in 1886-1887. In the course of a remarkable expedition, the three travellers crossed Persia, and then from Samarkand they explored the head of the Oxus in the Pamirs and descended to the Indus from the Wakhan Valley through Masutj in Chitral; this expedition earned Bonvalot a gold medal from the Société de géographie de Paris and the title Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur.
Described by Frank Bliss as ‘one of the most finely crafted publications on central Asia’ (Social and Economic Change in the Pamirs (London and New York: 2006), p. 88), Bonvalot’s account was first published in this French edition, and was followed by an English translation by Coulson Bell Pitman under the title Through the Heart of Asia over the Pamïr to India (London: 1889) and an Italian edition issued as Il tetto del Mondo. Viaggio al Pamir (Milan: 1899).
Perret 0584; Vicaire I, col. 860.
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