SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

If you would like to get in touch, please feel free to contact:

PETTIGREW, Thomas Joseph.
A History of Egyptian Mummies, and an Account of the Worship and Embalming of the Sacred Animals by the Egyptians; with Remarks on the Funeral Ceremonies of Different Nations, and Observations on the Mummies of the Canary Islands, of the Ancient Peruvian

London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman,1834.
Cohn 644; Hilmy II, 113.
London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman,1834.

4to (12 x 9 1/2 inches). Half-title, list of subscribers. 11 engraved plates (4 hand-coloured and several with gilt highlights) after George Cruikshank (10) and others, and 2 lithographed plates. Original grained green cloth-backed brown paper boards, printed paper title label on the upper cover. FIRST EDITION - an unsophisticated "subscription copy" in original boards of the first scientific treatment in English of the funerary practices of the ancient Egyptians, illustrated with plates after George Cruikshank. Surgeon and antiquarian Thomas Joseph Pettigrew (1791-1865), also known as "Mummy" Pettigrew, is probably most famous for those early Victorian private parties in which he unrolled and examined Egyptian mummies for the entertainment of London's well-to-do. Far from being a play-actor or impresario, however, Pettigrew was a serious and thorough archaeologist whose studies into ancient Egyptian funerary practices remained authoritative for nearly a century. Pettigrew's work is as significant for its archaeological observations as for its striking illustrations. The accomplished, realistic plates after Cruikshank reveal the artist's careful attention to detail, and illustrate funerary relics, sarcophagi, and mummified Egyptians both wrapped and unwrapped. "Modern literature on the subject of mummification is extensive. The historic cornerstone of the study in English is Thomas Pettigrew's History of Egyptian mummies, published in 1834. For the time at which it appeared, the work was a monumental undertaking. Based on scholarly research and practical experience, Pettigrew's work was a summation of almost all that was known concerning Egyptian funerary practices. He compiled all the ancient sources and commented on them, as well as discussing many examples of mummified remains investigated by or known to him. The work is illustrated by engraved plates by George Cruikshank (best known for his satirical drawings) that are the product of careful observation. It was not until 1924 that a work of comparable stature appeared". (Peck, Mummies of ancient Egypt, in Cockburn et. al, Mummies, Disease, and Ancient Cultures (Cambridge: 1998); pp. 15-16). "One of the most valuable works on the subject extant. It is a monument of exact observation, and considering the state of archaeological knowledge at the time, it is in every way admirable" (Dawson, Bibliography of Works Relating to Mummification in Egypt [1929], 97). Coloured plates in order: 1. Graeco - Egyptian Mummy, unrolled April 6th 1833. 2. [Untitled plate of a Male Mummy Head]. 3. [Untitled plate of assorted insects]. 4. [Untitled portrait of a young boy].