4to (202 x 163mm), pp. [4 (title, verso blank, dedication, illustrations)], 59, [1 (blank)]; mounted photographic frontispiece and 29 mounted photographic plates, all after Estridge, one folding lithographic map, and one double-page letterpress table in the text; occasional light spotting, offsetting, or marking affecting text and plates, some photographs slightly faded; original hard-grained tan morocco, boards with gilt-ruled borders, upper board lettered in gilt, modern lemon-yellow endpapers, all edges gilt; a few light marks and scuffs, extremities lightly rubbed and chipped, skilfully rebacked and recornered, nonetheless a very good copy of a rare work; provenance: ‘From the author’ (presentation inscription on title, manuscript correction on p. 56, presumably in the author’s hand) – S.F. Hassan, Mombasa, 3 January 1953 (ownership inscription on verso of frontispiece) – Humphrey Winterton (booklabel on upper pastedown; his sale, Sotheby’s London, 28 May 2003, lot 248).
US $8397 €6805
First edition. Following a period in the army, Estridge (1837-1902) was appointed Collector of Customs at Mahé in the Seychelles (probably in 1880), and held the position until 1885, when he returned to England. In 1886 he took up the position of Receiver and Accountant-General, British Bechuanaland (and was elected a fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute in the same year), remaining in the country until 1888, when he retired to England.
Six Years in Seychelles provides an overview of the islands and their history, commerce, architecture, geography, and natural history. Estridge provides much information on the flora and fauna, printing extracts from the report compiled by John Horne (the Director of the Botanic Gardens, Mauritius, who visited Mahé from 1871 to 1874 and published his notes in 1875), and discussing plant-hunting trips undertaken at the behest of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, the Director of Kew, and a visit in 1884 from the celebrated botanist and artist Marianne North, who ‘greatly enjoyed the place, and was enraptured with the palms &c.’ (p. 51; North’s recollections of her visit and plant-hunting expeditions with Estridge appear in chapter XV of Recollections of a Happy Life (London: 1892), where he is identified as ‘Mr. E.’). Another notable visitor was Gordon of Khartoum: ‘[w]e found him most pleasant and chatty. He greatly admired and was deeply interested in the Seychelles, and said he thought Praslin must have been the Garden of Eden’ (loc. cit.).
In one passage, Estridge records the effects in the Seychelles of the eruption of Krakatoa on 27 August 1883 and the consequent tsunamis: ‘[i]t began at about 4 p.m. [...] and a tidal wave suddenly came rushing at about four miles an hour, and reaching a height of about 2½ feet above the usual high springs. It receded in about a quarter of an hour, leaving boats high and dry. It then returned, and the same thing continued all next day, only varying in the time, each movement taking about ten minutes, and the height reaching about 10 inches. I noted from 10.15 a.m. till 1.05 p.m., that the sea flowed and ebbed 17 times. At 5 p.m. the sun was clear and bright; at 6 p.m., sunset, there was a lurid glare all over the sky; at half-past six the glare got much brighter; and at a quarter to seven it disappeared. The sky all day was slightly hazy [...] We were not aware till after the arrival of the Mauritius mail what caused this, but then learnt what it was and the great destruction it had caused. Even now the shores of the various islands are covered with pumice-stone’ (pp. 51-52).
The work is dedicated to the soldier and administrator Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock (1844-1908), who was Chief Civil Commissioner Seychelles Islands from 1874 to 1875 and from 1879 to 1880, and ended his career serving as the Governor of Trinidad, Natal, Sri Lanka, Madras, and, finally, Tasmania. The number of copies issued of this privately-published work is unknown, but the expensive and laborious technique of illustration with mounted photographic prints (which appear to be platinum prints, but do display untypical traces of a coating), suggests that the edition was not large. Certainly, only three copies of Six Years in Seychelles can be traced at auction since 1975 in Anglo-American auction records: the Brooke-Hitching copy (Sotheby’s London, 30 September 2014, lot 452, rebacked), the present copy, and the Bradley Martin copy (12 December 1989, lot 1536, hand-coloured and inscribed to the author’s parents). To these can be added a further five in institutional libraries in the UK at Cambridge (2), Oxford (2), and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
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A CRISP, UNCUT COPY OF THE FIRST BOTANICAL PUBLICATION ABOUT COOK’S SECOND VOYAGE COOK, Captain James – Johann Reinhold and (Johann) Georg Adam FORSTER.
Characteres generum plantarum, quas in itinere ad insulas Maris Australis, collegerunt, descripserunt, delinearunt, annis MDCCLXXII–MDCCLXXV.
First edition. Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-1798) and his son Georg Forster (1754-1794) travelled on Cook’s second voyage of 1772-1775 as naturalists, and their Characteres generum plantarum was the first botanical work about the voyage to be published and one of the earliest sources for European knowledge of the plants of Polynesia and Australasia – indeed, ‘it has been said to be the foundation of our knowledge of New Zealand, Antarctic, and Polynesian vegetation’ (Hill). As Henrey explains, ‘[t]he work is botanically important as containing a large number of new generic and specific names relating to plants of Australasia and Polynesia. It appears that in the preparation of this undertaking the Forsters were able to use the fine natural history library belonging to Sir Joseph Banks, and to seek the advice of his librarian Daniel Carl Solander. Furthermore, they had free access to the Banks and Solander collections made on Cook’s first voyage [...] to the Pacific, and to Solander’s manuscripts’ (II, p. 167).
TAVERNIER, Jean Baptiste.
Recüeil de plusieurs relations et traitez singuliers et curieux . . . qui n’ont point esté mis dans ses six premiers voyages. Divisé en cinq paties [sic]. I. Une relation du Japon, et de la cause de la persecution des Chrestiens dans ses isles: avec la carte du païs. II. Relation de ce qui s’est passé dans la negociation des deputez qui ont esté en Perse et aux Indes, tant de la part du roy, que de la Compagnie Françoise, pour l’establissement du commerce. III. Observations sur le commerce des Indes Orientales, et sur les frauds qui s’y peuvent commetre. IV. Relation nouvelle et singuliere du royaume de Tunquin: avec plusieurs figures et la carte du païs. V. Histoire de la conduite des Hollandois en Asie.
First edition, separately published, of the third part of Tavernier’s celebrated collection of voyages. The first two parts, Les six voyages, had appeared in 1676 and were also reissued in 1679.