VOLNEY, CONSTANTIN FRANÇOIS CHASSEBŒUF, COMTE DE.
TRAVELS THROUGH SYRIA AND EGYPT, IN THE YEARS 1783, 1784, AND 1785.(London: Printed for G. G. J. and J. Robinson, 1788). 216 x 137 mm (8 1/2 x 5 3/8"). Two volumes.. Second Edition in English.
VERY FINE CONTEMPORARY FLAMED CALF, flat spines ruled in gilt, red morocco label on each spine. Three engraved folding plates (views and plan) and two engraved folding maps. Front pastedowns with the armorial bookplate of Penelope Vaughn. Cox I, 235 (citing French edition of 1787); Lowndes IV, 2790; Graesse VI, 389 (both citing English edition of 1787). A handful of paper flaws (one causing a short tear without loss just into text), a half dozen leaves with light marginal soiling (apparently incurred in the print shop), top inch of front joint of second volume slightly cracked, two bottom corners a bit bumped and rubbed, but A VERY FINE COPY INSIDE AND OUT, the bindings lustrous and scarcely worn, the text bright and clean, and the plates all remarkably well preserved.
The author's first book, this item is called by Chambers "one of the most exact and valuable works of [its] kind ever published" (Cox quoting Chambers' "Cyclopaedia: or, an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences"). The Blackmer catalogue says that "Volney's popular and highly-regarded work was the result of three years' travels, a good deal of which time was spent in Cairo. His account has never really been surpassed. Volney went to great lengths in preparation, which included a year devoted to exercise and self-deprivation and three months learning the language required in a convent in the mountains of Lebanon." Volney (1757-1820) was a learned man, a frequent traveller, and an important governmental official who was expelled from America as a suspected spy and who narrowly escaped the guillotine during the French Revolution. The present bindings obviously are not notable for their decoration, but they are wonderful examples of attractively executed flamed calf bindings typical of those making up the bulk of country gentlemen's libraries all over Great Britain. The condition of the present copy is nothing short of extraordinary, very nearly capturing the look and feel of the volumes as they would have appeared on their original shelf. (ST10830)