JAMES BAILLIE FRASER (1783-1856)
Views in the Himala Mountains. London: published by Rodwell & Martin, 1 June 1820 [plates dated 1 March 1820].
Broadsheet (705 x 515mm.) Hand-coloured aquatint title and 20 hand-coloured aquatint plates by Robert Havell & Son after Fraser, all on thick paper, mounted on guards throughout, with laid Whatman paper interleaves (most watermarked '1825'). (Light spotting to the majority of plates.) Near-contemporary red straight-grained morocco gilt, the covers with outer decorative panels made up of fillets and various flower or foliage small tools, all surrounding large inset red glazed paper panels textured in imitation of straight-grained morocco with decorative border tooled in blind, the upper cover with centrally-placed red morocco lettering-piece with gilt lettering within a gilt border, spine in seven compartments with raised bands, the bands with repeat decoration in gilt, the compartments outlined in blind, gilt turn-ins, yellow-toned endpapers (front free-endpaper with watermarked date '1830'), g.e. (wear to spine, some splitting to joints, extremities rubbed, corners bumped). Provenance: The Earls of Derby (armorial bookplate, manuscript library accession numbers on front free endpaper).
THE DERBY COPY OF FRASER'S RARE WORK ON THE HIMALAYAS, illustrated with magnificent views recalling the first recorded journey by Europeans through the region. This copy, from the library of the Earls of Derby, was bound in 1830 or slightly later, suggesting that the original owner was either the 12th Earl (d. 1834) or his son, the 13th Earl, who built up the menagerie at Knowsley Hall, together with its magnificent natural history library and drawings collection. The present work stands as a visual record of the pioneering journey made by James Baillie Fraser and his brother William, a political agent in 1815, during the Nepal war. They spent two months journeying through the region, chiefly exploring the river valleys but occasionally venturing to higher altitudes (where the party suffered from altitude sickness). The expedition reached as far as the sources of both the Jumna and the Ganges. The fine coloured plates were engraved by the Havells from Fraser's sketches made on the spot, and were intended to both accompany Fraser's own written account of the journey (Journal of a Tour through Part of the Snowy Range of the Himala Mountains London: 1820) and to be seen as a fitting rival and supplement to the earlier works by the Daniells and Henry Salt. Although Rodwell & Martin did not publish the other works, they chose to describe this work as being 'In Elephant Folio, uniform with Daniell's Oriental Scenery and Salt's Views in Abyssinia. Abbey Travel II, 498.