POCOCKE'S CELEBRATED ACCOUNT

A Description of the East, and some other Countries.  London: W. Bowyer for the Author, [‘and sold by J. and P. Knapton, W. Innys, W. Meadows, G. Hawkins, S. Birt, T. Longman, C. Hitch, R. Dodsley, J. Nourse, and J. Rivington’ (I)], 1743–1745. 

[Nourse, and J. Rivington’ (I)], 1743–1745. 

Folio (412 x 254 mm), 3 parts bound in 2 volumes, pp. I: [2], vi, [8], 310; II, i: [2], xi,, [1], 268; II, ii: vii, [1], 308; Roman and Greek types; engraved title-vignettes, engraved dedication in II, I, and engraved headpiece, 178 engraved plates, maps, and plans numbered 1-32, 34-76 (as issued) and 1-103, by G. Child, G.D. Ehret, Sam Wale, T. Jeffreys et al. (6 folding, 5 double-page, and one double-page folding); woodcut head- and tailpieces, and initials; some light browning and offsetting, a few ll. and plates with short, skilfully-repaired tears, bound without final blank in English late-18th-century full diced Russia gilt, boards with gilt borders of broad and narrow rules, board-edges gilt, turn-ins gilt with greek-key roll, spines gilt in compartments; boards lightly rubbed, extremities a little rubbed and bumped causing minor losses on corners and spine ends, spines faded and with cracking on joints, one front flyleaf excised from each volume.

£8000

Approximately:
US $10333€9486

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A Description of the East, and some other Countries.  London: W. Bowyer for the Author, [‘and sold by J. and P. Knapton, W. Innys, W. Meadows, G. Hawkins, S. Birt, T. Longman, C. Hitch, R. Dodsley, J. Nourse, and J. Rivington’ (I)], 1743–1745. 

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First edition, demy folio issue. A successful churchman Pococke (1704-1765) is now best remembered as a traveller and mountaineer. His earliest journeys were undertaken between 1733 and 1736 through continental Europe. His ‘next and most ambitious journey, from 1737 to 1740, was to the Near East, then virtually unknown to western travellers. On 29 September 1737 he reached Alexandria, and went to Rosetta, where he visited Cosmas, the Greek patriarch. In December he left for Upper Egypt and on 9 January 1738 reached Dendereh. He visited Thebes but did not go up the Nile beyond Philae […] Pococke reached Cairo in February 1738. He next visited Jerusalem, and bathed in the Dead Sea to test a statement of Pliny’s about the specific gravity of the water. He travelled in northern Palestine, and explored Balbec. He also visited Cyprus, Crete, where he climbed Mount Ida, parts of Asia Minor, and Greece. He made a thorough survey of the coast of the Troad on horseback in 1740 and made a good guess at the location of Troy (Hissarlik)’ (ODNB). Returning via Europe – where he visited Naples, ascended Vesuvius twice, and explored the Savoy Alps – Pococke reached England in 1742..

‘The work was acclaimed at the time, and Gibbon in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire described it as of “superior learning and dignity” ... ‘the quality and particularly the earliness of his observations and their record in prose, maps, and diagrams make him one of the most important near eastern travellers, ranking with Frederik Ludvig Norden and Carsten Niebuhr, in stimulating an Egyptian revival in European art and architecture, and recording much that has subsequently been lost’ (ibid.). 1,190 sets of A Description of the East were printed on demy folio sheets (as here) and 60 were printed on royal folio sheets; a further 500 copies of the final section of the first volume were reset and repaginated, and issued separately in 1743 as Dissertatio de geographia Aegypti.

Provenance: Edward Winnington, with his bookplate as second baronet (after 1791). An MP and ‘a gentleman eminent for his attainments in Literature’ (Gentleman’s Magazine, 1805), he was elected a member of the Society of Dilettanti in 1788 (cf. L. Cust, History of the Society of Dilettanti (London: 1914), p. 277).

Atabey 965; Blackmer 1323; Brunet IV, col. 750 (‘Ouvrage intéressant et fort recherché’); Cobham-Jeffery p. 51; ESTC T31684; Ibrahim-Hilmy II, p.125; Lowndes p. 1893; Röhricht 1396; Tobler pp. 127-128; Weber II, p. 513.

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