BOWDICH, Thomas Edward (1791-1824). Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee, with a statitsical account of that kingdom, and geographical noties of other parts of the interior of Africa. W. Bulmer & Co. for John Murray, 1819.
4° (290 x 220mm). Half-title. 11 plates and plans (2 engraved maps, one folding, wood-engraved and letterpress plan, folding engraved plate, 7 fine hand-coloured aquatint plates after Bowdich), 5pp. engraved sheet music on 3 leaves. (Offsetting of engraved music onto text leaves Aa2, Aa3, 3L4 and 3M1.) Original boards, paper label to backstrip 'Mission to Ashantee by T.E. Bowdich, Esq. Sixteen Coloured Plates, Maps, Wood Cuts, &c. [double rule] £3.3s.', uncut (extemities lightly scuffed, small repaired tear to head of spine), 20th-century cloth box. Provenance: Mary Countess of Berkeley (d.1844, inscription dated 28 January 1820, by descent); sale Sotheby's 22 June 1989, lot 146, sold £600 ('the Berkeley Castle copy').
FIRST EDITION, A VERY FINE COPY IN ALMOST UNTOUCHED ORIGINAL BOARDS. 'This work, the most important after Bruce's, excited great interest, as an almost incredible story... of a land and people of warlike and barbaric splendour hitherto unknown' (DNB). 'In 1815 the African Company planned a mission to Ashantee, and appointed Bowdich the conductor. On reaching Cape Coast Castle ... the council, considering him too young, appointed Mr. James (governor of Fort Accra) principal. Events at Coomassie [i.e. diplomatic blunders by Mr. James] ... soon compelled Bowdich to supersede his chief (a bold step afterwards sanctioned by the authorities), and by diplomatic skill and intrepidity, when the fate of himself and comrades hung on a thread, he succeeded in a most difficult negotiation, and formed a treaty with the king of Ashantee, which promised peace on the Gold Coast. He was therefore the first whose labours accomplished the object of penetrating to the interior of Africa' (op.cit.). Abbey Travel I, 279; Gay 2861; Tooley 95.