PETERMANN, Augustus (1822-1878)
By Authority of Her Majesty's Foreign Office. An Account of the Progress of the Expedition to Central Africa, performed by order of Her Majesty's Office, under Messrs. Richardson, Barth, Overweg & Vogel, In the years 1850, 1851, 1852 and 1853
London: For the Author by E. Stanford, 1854. Folio. (23 x 17 inches). 3 lithographed maps, hand-coloured in outline (one folding), including one within pictorial tinted border incorporating portraits of Richardson, Barth, Overweg and Vogel.
Expertly bound to style in half red morocco and marbled paper covered boards, spine gilt with raised bands
Rare folio account of Barth's famed expedition to the Sudan, illustrated with three important maps of the region.
Seeking to open commercial relationships in the sub-Saharan region of North Africa, Great Britain organized an overland expedition under the direction of James Richardson, an abolitionist missionary and traveller who had returned from travels in Northern Africa in 1846. Accompanying him were Heinrich Barth, a German explorer and Adolf Overweg, a German geologist and astronomer. Departing from Tripoli in March 1850, the expedition set out for Ghat, which they reached four months later. En route, Barth became separated from the party after climbing Mount Idinen and in a delerium induced by heat and dehydration, sliced his arms and drank his own blood to quench his thirst. He would be found by nomadic locals and returned safely to his companions. From Ghat, the party headed by caravan to the Aïr mountains. In January 1851, at an oasis north of Zinder, the party separated, agreeing to meet again at Kukawa four month later : Richardson headed for Zinder and Lake Chad, Overweg travelled westward to Gobir, and Barth headed southward to Tassawa. Richardson, however, would contract fever and die before reaching their meeting place. Barth and Overweg continued on and explored the northern shore of Lake Chad, with the latter becoming the first European to circumnavigate its shores by boat. The two separated again, with Overweg heading southeast toward present day Bongor, and Barth exploring the southern shore of Lake Chad. Overweg would succumb to a fever east of Kukawa before his rendezvous with Barth.
Now the only survivor of the original expedition, Barth courageously decided to continue on and explore the region between Lake Chad and Timbukto. He would enter that famed city disguised as a Muslim in September 1853, becoming just the third European to do so, staying there for seven months. On his return trip to Kukawa, Barth would be discovered by Edouard Vogel, who had been dispatched to find him. Barth would eventually make his way northward arriving in Tripoli in August 1855, before returning to London. His journey had extended from Tripoli in the north to Adamawa in the south, and from Lake Chad in the east to Timbuktu in the west, covering some 12,000 miles in all.
Barth arrived in London with great fanfare. He was awarded the Order of the Bath by Queen Victoria and the present work was commissioned, compiled by German geographer Augustus Petermann, based on Barth's preliminary account, his expedition maps and official dispatches. The maps include a general map of the region (with an elaborate surround comprised of portraits of the four explorers, plus vignettes of peoples, places, flora and fauna from the region), a map of Northern Africa showing the routes of the expedition members between 1850 and 1853, and a more detailed, large folding map of Central Africa showing the routes of the expedition between 1851 and 1852.