Spectacularly illustrated account of an important natural history expedition to South America.
Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk (5 June 1804 – 11 March 1865) was a German-born explorer for Great Britain who carried out geographical, ethnological and botanical studies in South America and the West Indies, and also fulfilled diplomatic missions for Great Britain in the Dominican Republic and Thailand.
His taste for natural history led him in 1830 to the West Indies, and in 1831 he surveyed, at his own cost, the littoral of Anegada, one of the Virgin Islands. His results were printed in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society (1831) and attracted some notice.
During 1835–9, under the direction of the Royal Geographical Society, he explored the rivers Essequibo (the sources of which he was the first European to reach), Corentyn, and Berbice, and investigated in detail the capabilities of the colony of British Guiana. In 1837 he discovered and sent to England the giant water lily Victoria regia now renamed Victoria amazonica. By his journey across the interior from the Essequibo to Esmeralda on the Orinoco he was enabled to connect his observations with those of his countryman, Humboldt, and to determine astronomically a series of fixed points extending across the watershed of the great rivers of equatorial America. For these services the Royal Geographical Society conferred on him in 1840 one of its gold medals.
As a result of the expedition Schomburgke wrote A Description of British Guiana, Geographical and Statistical (1840), which was in its original form a report to the Colonial Office and is the first detailed account of the colony. For more popular consumption he published by subscription the present work, and two volumes in The Naturalist’s Library (ed. W. Jardine) entitled The Fishes of Guiana (1841–3). (ODNB).
First edition. Folio (53.5 x 35 cm), hand-coloured lithograph frontispiece, title, dedication leaf, list of subscribers, engraved map by Arrowsmith, 38 pages of text, and 12 hand-coloured lithographs finished with gum arabic by Guaci, after drawings taken by Charles Bentley, contemporary black half morocco, grey pebbled cloth boards, light spotting, joints and corners repaired, occasional light spotting, an excellent example.
Abbey, Travel, 729.
Stock ID: 96784