African and Other Travels from Allsworth Rare Books
Travels and Explorations, with Prince Archibong II on the cover
By Michael Stillman
Allsworth Rare Books of London has released a most intriguing catalogue of Travel and Exploration. This, their fourth catalogue, is highlighted by travels from Europe to Africa, primarily in the 19th century. Those who collect Africa or African explorations certainly need to see this collection. However, you will also find travels to other lands, including China, Japan, India, and Panama included in this volume. Here is a look at a few of the items offered.
Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at over 19,000 feet, was virtually unknown in the West until the mid-19th century. Its near Arctic weather and snow capped peak stands in dramatic contrast to the tropical lands which surround it. German Hans Meyer was the first westerner to climb its peak, which he managed on a second attempt in 1889. His is the first recorded ascent of the mountain, though natives of what is now Tanzania may well have preceded him. Item 122 is the first English edition of Meyer's recounting of the ascent, Across East African Glaciers, published in 1891. Kilimanjaro is unusual in that, despite its great height, it requires no special tools or mountaineering skills, just time, persistence, and clothing for a variety of climates. With the help of guides readily available, you can repeat Meyer's significant, if not spectacular ascent to the top. Priced at £3,750 (British pounds, or US equivalent of $6,540).
Prince Archibong II was turn of the century royalty of Calabar, a city in current Nigeria, in an area where several rivers meet. It was once the capital of the British Niger Coast Protectorate. Item 140 is a photograph of the Prince seated on his thrown. I have not been able to find out much about Prince Archibong II, or whether he was ever king, but based on his picture (see the image on the front cover of Allsworth's catalogue), I can say he had a very nice crown and ate well.£800 (US $1,395).
Many people, at least in America, tend to think of the Emancipation as the end of slavery. America was the last western country to tolerate the practice. However, slavery, and the slave trade, continued unabated in other parts of the world. Here is a look at that continuing trade: The slave trade in Africa in 1872. Principally carried on for the supply of Turkey, Egypt, Persia, and Zanzibar, by Etienne Berlioux. Item 20. £200 (US $348).
Here is another photograph from Africa, circa the 1890s. From German East Africa, it is a photograph of the Sultan of the Wa-chaga tribe, with his six wives and one dog. We can tell who was special to the Sultan. Item 1. £275 (US $479).
African and Other Travels from Allsworth Rare Books
Lord George Sanger and his lions
In 1871, most men believed a woman's place was in the home. Alexandrine Tinne would have none of that, but she probably should have. Item 172 is the story of her travels: The heroine of the White Nile or, what a woman did and dared. A sketch of the remarkable travels and experiences of Miss Alexandrine Tinne. Tinne, a Dutch heiress, traveled to Central Africa in 1861. She brought along her mother, aunt and maids. In 1863, she met up with a Dr. Steudner in Khartoum. Dr. Steudner, Miss Tinne's mother, aunt, and two maids all died from malaria on the trip. Undaunted, she returned in 1869, arriving in Tripoli with intentions of exploring the land of the nomadic Taureg people. Evidently, the Taureg were not that pleased to see Miss Tinne as they murdered her. William Wells' biography of this brave but unfortunate woman is priced at £275 (US $479).
Item 73 offers a warning to travelers to India, at least those who visited in 1882. The title, by Major E.J. Gunthorpe, is Notes on criminal tribes residing in or frequenting the Bombay Presidency, Nerar, and the Central Provinces. Apparently, certain tribes had manners of relieving travelers of their money, if not their lives. One chapter describes the practice of "professional poisoners." They would poison cart drivers, steal their goods, and then leave the body under a blanket by a tree on the side of the road. It would look as if the driver had just stopped to take a nap. When it was discovered that the driver was dead, people would assume that he had just died in his sleep. £550 (US $959).
It was an exciting event early in the life of Winston Churchill, one which would help build his reputation, though leave him less than admired by a comrade. Churchill was a war correspondent traveling by train in South Africa during the Boer War in 1899 when the Boers derailed his train. Churchill helped many British on board escape, but he, along with Captain Aylmer Haldane and others, were captured. They quickly plotted their escape, and one evening, Churchill, Haldane, and another man made their attempt. Churchill got over the fence, but the others were not successful. The future British Prime Minister took off, but Haldane felt he should have waited for the others. Haldane bore a grudge over the incident, although its questionable that Churchill could have waited for long once across the fence. Guards stopped Haldane, who eventually succeeded in escaping the Boers three months later. Haldane's account of the escape is found in How we escaped from Pretoria, published in 1900. £300 (US $524).
Lord George Sanger's circus was perhaps the most famous of all of the 19th century circuses. He is credited with devising the three-ring circus, a format adopted by the leading American practitioners such as P.T. Barnum. His wife had performed before their marriage as the "Lion Queen," and caged lions, accompanied by a caged human, was part of the draw. Item 108 is two photographs from his circus, circa 1890s, including one of the dapper Sanger inside the lions' cage. £250 (US $436).
You may find Allsworth Rare Books online at www.allsworthbooks.com, phone number +44 (0) 7884-054114.