(London: Ackermann & Co., 1841). 532 x 360 mm. (21 x 14 1/4"). 4 p.l., 38 pp. FIRST EDITION.
Expertly bound to style in red half morocco over original red and black patterned cloth-covered boards, the covers ruled in gilt, raised bands, spine compartments gilt with repeat pattern built up from small tools, gilt titling, marbled endpapers, morocco hinges, all edges gilt. Tipped-in hand-colored additional lithographic title by M. Gauci after Charles Bentley, one engraved map with route marked in red, and 12 HAND-COLORED LITHOGRAPHIC PLATES by G. Barnard (7), M. Gauci (3), and Coke Smyth (2), dedication leaf with arms at head of page printed in gilt, several wood-cut illustrations in text. Abbey Travel 720; Sabin 77796. One negligible repair to cloth of lower cover, just the faintest hint of soil and foxing internally, but IN ESPECIALLY FINE CONDITION, the handsome spine of the binding making a pleasing appearance on the shelf, the large, striking plates clean, without the frequently seen offsetting onto the text, and with rich coloring.
This beautifully illustrated oversize volume contains a handsome series of plates depicting the natural beauty and native denizens of the exotic South American country of British Guiana. The original sketches for this publication were made by John Morrison under the direction of Robert Herman Schomburgk (1804-65), a German-born businessman turned explorer who undertook several expeditions to the colony in the 1830s and '40s, and is best known for setting the boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana, appropriately known as the Schomburgk line. His longest expedition to the region was from 1835-39 on behalf of the Royal Geographic Society of London. During his travels he discovered several new species of orchids and giant water lilies, including the species now known as Victoria amazonica, and obtained, in line with the aims of the RGS, "a more extended knowledge of the geography and natural productions of hitherto unvisited regions." (Preface) Schomburgk published his findings and observations in "A Description of British Guiana, Geographical and Statistical" in 1840, followed by the present work, which was intended for a popular audience. In addition to describing the more interesting geographical features and waterways he encountered, Schomburgk devotes a significant section to the native population and communities, featuring their culture and noting the different tribal designations, customs, foods, and ceremonies. The lovely hand coloring--still fresh and very rich--adds lushness and vitality to these very large views, which are certainly striking and may well qualify as spectacular. (Lhi21010)