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RICHARD BRIDGENS

West India Scenery, with Illustrations of Negro Character, the process of making sugar, &c. from sketches taken during a voyage to, and residence of seven years in, the Island of Trinidad. London: Robert Jennings & Co., [1836]. 4° (368 x 274mm). Advertisement slip facing title page, 27 lithographic plates, 4 hand-coloured, with one leaf of text accompanying each plate. (Some spotting and browning throughout with occasional light offsetting, plate 5 disbound with edges browned and torn.) Original blue imitation-morocco cloth, titled in gilt on upper cover, yellow endpapers (worn, upper board detached).

EXTREMELY RARE ALBUM OF TRINIDAD detailing topographical views, indigenous wildlife, sugar cane farming and scenes of West Indian life and recreation including dancing, about which Bridgens observes: 'It may almost be said that Negro recreation is comprised in the word dancing. ... A drum, made of a barrel, covered at one end with a piece of dried goat's skin, and a coarse instrument (termed a shak-shak) formed of a hollow calabash, in which some shot or stones are enclosed; these, when the former is beaten violently and the latter shaken unintermittingly, produce a din highly gratifying to the negro ear, but which it is almost impossible for the more delicate organ of a white man to bear. This is generally accompanied by the voices of several of the party, whose vocal efforts are, if possible, more overpowering than the noise of the instruments. ... all their movements in dancing are marked by great activity. They seem to seek in muscular exertion a means of letting off a portion of the superabundant animal spirits of which they appear to keep a supply in reserve for such occasions. The bending of the body forwards, ... which is accompanied by an indescribable wriggling motion from side to side, is worthy of notice'. These lithographs have previously only been sold individually or as sets of prints; no copy of the first album, complete with all accompanying text, is recorded at auction by ABPC since 1975. Abbey Travel, 680; Sabin 7814.
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