Back to the Cradle: Highlights from our Africa Travel Catalogue

This is the first catalogue on Africa we have produced since 2005 and we hope you find it worth the wait. Discover first editions and rare books, including copies in fine bindings, relating to Western exploration and adventuring in Africa over 350 years. We have tried to make it as varied as possible with wonderful colour plate books documenting the botany of South Africa and subjects including colonial encounters, big-game hunting and politics. Throughout there is a solid backbone of the great African explorers from the Victorian era including Stanley, Livingstone and Burton.

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ALLEN, William. Picturesque views on the River Niger, 1840.

Rare first edition with 10 hand-coloured plates and map


William Allen was an English naval officer and explorer involved in fighting the African slave trade. He was also a talented artist, painting scenes of his travels, whose work was exhibited several times at the Royal Academy. On publication this book of illustrations sketched while navigating the River Niger with Richard Lemon Lander, attracted a strong list of subscribers including Robert Schomburgk, the eminent explorer. It includes several panoramas and views of the river, its natural surroundings and riverside towns such as Rabba, Nigeria.

EDWARDS, AMELIA B. A Thousand Miles up the Nile, 1877.

First edition, 17 full-page plates, 62 vignettes, 2 coloured folding maps


A Victorian travel classic, this is Amelia Edward’s account of her travels in Egypt that led her to become a leading Egyptologist.  The author was one of a party, which, in February 1874, discovered and excavated an interesting group of ruins at Aboo Simbel, in Nubia. Now out of print, this copy is one of the earliest dust-wrapped books that we have handled with original richly decorated cream cloth gilt cover lettered in red.

LOPES, Duarte; Philippo Pigafetta.
A report of the kingdome of Congo, a region of Africa

Printed by Iohn Wolfe, London, 1597


First edition in English complete with the Lopes-Pigafetta map of Africa which overthrew the old Ptolemic idea of the Mountains of the Moon being the source of the Nile with a vast central lake, and instead showed that the Nile flowed from a pair of lakes, one above the other on the same meridian.

BOWDICH, Thomas Edward. Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee, 1819.

First edition with fine hand-coloured aquatint plates


Bowdich was appointed conductor of the African Company mission to Ashantee in 1815, superseding his chief. He led the negotiations with the King of Ashantee which resulted in a treaty bringing peace to the British settlements on the Gold Coast. This book recounts his mission and it has been called “The most important [work] after Bruce’s, it excited great interest, as an almost incredible story, recalling The Arabian Nights, of a land and people of warlike and barbaric splendour hitherto unknown.”

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For more information concerning these newly catalogued items or to request our Africa catalogue please contact Julian MacKenzie in our Travel Department.