SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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WITTMAN, William M.D.
Travels in Turkey, Asia-Minor, Syria, and Across the Desert Into Egypt During the Years 1799, 1800, and 1801 in Company with the Turkish Army, and the British Military Mission

London: Richard Phillips (T. Gillet, printer), 1803.
Bobins I 174; Cox I 240; Blackmer 1832; Hiler 903. Not in Abbey or Colas.
London: Richard Phillips (T. Gillet, printer), 1803.

Thick 4to. contemporary full brown tree calf re-backed with original gilt-decorated spine laid down; raised bands with green morocco spine label. FIRST EDITION of this observant turn-of-the-19th-century travelogue of the Near East illustrated with a folding frontispiece depicting "The March of the Grand Vizier's Army across the Desert" 20 engraved plates mostly of native costumes (16 beautifully hand-coloured) colour-outlined military plan large folding map showing the author's route from Constantinople to Jaffa and a large folding facsimile of a "Turkish Passport." "Wittman brings the world of ancient western Asia to life through his vivid writing" (Gorgias Press). William Wittman served as surgeon to the British Military Mission that accompanied the Army of the Grand Vizier between 1799 and 1801. During his years of service he traveled through Turkey Syria Egypt and later Greece. In this historic travelogue Dr. Wittman kept an eye on the medical conditions of the inhabitants, particularly the effects of the plague, to which he devotes an entire chapter. Wittman was in an advantageous position for "observing the manners, customs, and habits of the Turkish nation, not only in peace, but in war". He assessed the Turkish Army as being backward in its technology, "having watched an Ottoman army leave Constantinople to fight the French in 1798: 'Some of them were enveloped in curious network coats of mail of steel, others wore yellow dresses, decorated with ribbons...and brass helmets on their heads...armed with spears and lancers'" (Allan Cunningham). Wittman's account also contains a detailed meteorological journal from 1799 to 1802. Sixteen hand-coloured plates depict various inhabitants in native costume. Contents leaves supplied from another example. Plates fine and colours true, light scattered foxing to text, minor rubbing to corners of contempt. calf. A good copy. Coloured plates in order: 1. A Greek Lady. 2. The Grand Seignior. 3. The Capitan Bachi in his dress worn on public Occasion. 4. The Superior of the Derviches. 5. The Capi Aga. The Governor of the Gates of the Seraglio and Chief of the White Eunuchs. 6. The Toutoun Bashi of the Grand Vizier, or Chief of the Tobacco. 7. A Delhi - Turkish Light Cavalry. 8. The Topgis Bashi, or Commandant of Artillery. 9. Plan of the Encampment of his Highness The Grand Vizier at Jaffa in Syria. 10. A Cadi Asker of Judge. 11. Etchi Bashi, or Chief Cook of the Janissaries. 12. An Arnaut Soldier (rear view). 13. An Arnaut Soldier (side view). 14. A Mamaluke Soldier. 15. A Seis, or Arab Groom. 16. A Chiaous Bashi. 17. A Lady of Grand Cairo.