SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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LYON, Capt. John Francis.
A Narrative of Travels in Northern Africa, in the Years 1818-19- 20; accompanied by geographical notices of the Soudan, and of the course of the Niger

George Francis Lyon was an English naval officer and explorer of Africa and he is remembered for the entertaining journals he kept and for the pencil drawings he completed; this information was useful to later expeditions. Lyon, disguised as a Muslim, left Tripoli to discover the source of the Niger river. The hand-colored plates depict scenes and traditional Libyan clothes.

London: Thomas, Davison for John Murray, 1821.
Abbey Travel I 304; Blackmer 1044; Gay 2780; Tooley 311; Colas &Lipperheide for the French edition; Bobins 104.
London: Thomas, Davison for John Murray, 1821.

Lyon was Commander of H.M.S Hecla from 1821-23. This copy is accompanied with 13 hand-coloured aquatint plates and proof before letters, all but two with sepia duplicates in final states with captions, each plate but one with descriptive text in manuscript. Also included is a letter from Lyon to John Murray discussing the plates and possible publication; Lyon lists 11 plates as engraved but not published and 4 drawings. All items housed hinged to linen stubs in a full green morocco box. Lyon took part in the Battle of Algiers in 1816. In 1818 when Mr. Ritchie, secretary of the embassy in Paris, arrived on his way to Tripoli at the start of his travels in Africa in the government's interests, Lyon volunteered to take the place of Capt. Frederick Marryat and joined Ritchie in Tripoli. He already had some knowledge of Arabic and, for the next four months, studied assiduously, not only on language but the religious and social forms of the Arabs. They reached Murzak, where both were taken ill, Ritchie not surviving. Without funds or stores and still weak from fever, Lyon pushed on towards the southern boundary of Fezzan but was obliged to return to Tripoli. This work was an account of his journey. Published in French by Edouard Gauttier. Coloured plates in order: 1. Mr. Ritchie's Grave (coloured proof). 2-3. Distant view of Morzouk with Mr. Ritchie's Grave in the foreground (2 identical sepia views). 4. A Well and Garden Morzouk. 5-6. A Well and Garden Morzouk (2 identical sepia views, one with a caption, the other a proof copy). 7. Bornou Girl (coloured proof copy). 8-9. Bornou Girl (2 identical sepia plates). 10. Tiboo on Horseback (coloured proof copy). 11-12. Tiboo on Horseback (2 identical sepia plates; one proof copy; the other with caption). 13. Arab Woman & Child (coloured proof copy). 14. Arab Woman (sepia proof copy). 15. Tripoline Man (coloured proof copy). 16-17. Tripoline Merchant (2 identical sepia plates). 18-19. Town of Traghan (2 coloured proof copies). 20-21. Traghan, a Town 30 miles East of Morzouk (2 identical sepia views). 22. Mill of Tripoli (coloured proof copy). 23-24. Corn Mill, Tripoli (2 identical sepia plates). 25. A Pilgrim of the Tuarick. 26. A Pilgrim of the Tuarick (sepia plate). 27. Tibboo of Gatrone. 28. Scorpion / Agrab Eriahh, or Scorpion of the Wind. 29. Scorpion of the Wind (sepia proof plate). 30. Horse Caparisoned (coloured proof copy). 31-32. Moorish Horse (2 identical sepia plates). 33. Encampment near the Wells of Melghra (coloured proof).