Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa; including a Sketch of sixteen Years’ Residence in the Interior of Africa, and a Journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the West Coast; thence across the Continent, down the River Zambesi, to the eastern Ocean. 

London, John Murray, 1857. 

8vo, pp. x, 687, [8 (advertisements)], with a folding wood-engraved frontispiece, a steel-engraved portrait of the author by William Holl after Henry Phillips, 21 wood-engraved plates by Whymper et al., a folding wood-engraved geological section, and two folding lithographic maps by John Arrowsmith with routes added by hand in red (one loose in pocket on lower pastedown, as issued); illustrations in the text; a few isolated spots, loose folding map slightly creased and dust-soiled along one edge, but a good copy in the original brown cloth by Edmonds & Remnants of London with their ticket on rear pastedown; slightly rubbed and bumped, extremities a little frayed, small piece of cloth missing at head of lower joint, hinges split.

£500

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Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa; including a Sketch of sixteen Years’ Residence in the Interior of Africa, and a Journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the West Coast; thence across the Continent, down the River Zambesi, to the eastern Ocean. 

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First edition.  ‘Livingstone’s services to African geography during thirty years are almost unequalled; he covered about a third of the continent from the Cape to the Equator and from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.  He made three great expeditions; in 1853-6 (described in this book), 1858-64 and 1865-73, of which the first and third are the most important.  During these years he explored vast regions of central Africa, many of which had never been seen by white men before’ (Printing and the Mind of Man). 

Livingstone’s work also alerted Victorian England to the extent of the slave trade in Central and Eastern Africa, and it corrected the popular misconception that the slave trade was dying out in Africa; through his researches and writings the Portuguese slave trade was virtually wiped out in Angola.  It was also scientifically important, and provided an accurate account of the tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans) and the effect of its bite on cattle (Livingstone’s contemporaries believed that it was harmless to humans, which it may have been at that time; as he comments on p. 81, ‘a most remarkable feature in the bite of the tsetse is its perfect harmlessness in man and wild animals’).  This account on pp. 80-83 is complemented by an illustration on p. 571, which is repeated as a vignette on the title-page. 

The illustrations of the first edition of Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa are known in three states: one state has a wood-engraved frontispiece and all of the plates are wood-engraved; another state has a tinted lithographic frontispiece and two lithographic plates (one tinted), all printed by W. West; and a third state has a tinted lithographic frontispiece and two tinted lithographic plates, all printed by Day & Son.  The letterpress is also found in two settings: in one the text ends on p. 711 and pp. ‘8*’ and ‘8+’ are inserted between pp. 8 and 9, and in the other the text ends on p. 687 (as here); these settings are found with either a wood-engraved or lithographic frontispiece.  All of these permutations of text and plates are known with a Murray catalogue dated 1 November 1857 bound in at the end (present here).  Although Abbey suggested that the wood-engraved frontispiece indicated the first state of the plates, since the British Library copyright copy includes it, it seems more likely that Murray employed a number of firms to produce the plates required for the large first edition of twelve thousand copies simultaneously, and that therefore no sequence of priority can be assigned to the different states – certainly, the entry in Murray’s estimate book entry for Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa (now in the National Library of Scotland) suggests that the production of the lithographic plates was divided between the two lithographic printing houses of Day and West, with the former printing five thousand sets and the latter three thousand, indicating that some four thousand copies are illustrated throughout with wood-engraved plates (cf. NLS MS 42721, p. 219). 

Abbey 347; PMM 341. 

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