Barth's Explorations and Travels 1849-1855

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I found this wonderful volume in the "Antique Mall" off Blackfoot last year. It was in a used book section which is actually an old estate collection being sold off. This book is a real treasure and in pretty good shape for having been published over a 147 years ago!

The book is the journal of the African expedition of 1849-1855 by Dr. John Barth. This expedition is significant because it covered a large amount of North and Central Africa under extremely trying conditions. Barth was a professor at the University of Berlin and had extensively traveled in North Africa, by himself! He was asked to join a British expedition to North Central Africa under the command of a Mr Richardson.

During the course of the expedition Richardson died and Barth carried on himself eventually returning after almost six years!

This is the period of Colonial exploration of the "Dark Continent", the time of Dr. Livingston's explorations in South Central Africa. In fact one of the most interesting things contained in this book is a fold out map showing the areas of Africa explored at this time and most of Africa is still a blank.

This book is quoted and referenced by Jules Verne in "Five Weeks in a Balloon" and Barth's explorations and journeys in North Central Africa were considered at the time to be every bit as valuable as Livingston's in the South. As a glimpse into the trials and wonder of these hardy European adventurer explorers of the 19th century, Barth's journal is almost unequaled.

Originally published in England in 5 Octavo volumes (for then exorbitant price of 30 dollars), this edition is a kind of "condensed" popular work for the growing number of arm chair adventurers in England and America. It is still long at 538 pages.

A very interesting glimpse into the world of pre-colonial Africa, through the eyes of a scholar/adventurer.

Added bonus is the advertisements for other books in the publisher's catalog. Some of which sound very entertaining indeed.

Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa
From the Journal of an Expedition
Undertaken under the Auspices of H.B.M.'s Government
In the years 1849-1856

Henry Barth, Ph. D., D.C.L.,
Fellow of the Royal Geographic and Asiatic Societies, Etc. Etc.



Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.


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