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ROTH, Henry Ling.

Great Benin.

Its Customs, Art and Horrors.

Published: Halifax: F. King & Sons, Ltd., 1903

Stock code: 111907

Price: £425

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This item is on show at 100 Fulham Road (map)

First edition, 320 copies printed, of this uncommon, still-authoritative account, based partly on the records of the author’s brother, who served as medical officer to the punitive Benin Expedition of 1897, in which British troops under Sir Harry Rawson sacked Benin City and brought to an end the Kingdom of Benin: looting occurred on a grand scale, and such goods as were not auctioned off to defray war costs ended up in the British Museum. In 1878 Roth travelled to Australia on a commission to investigate the local sugar industry. “After leaving Australia in 1884, he settled in 1888 ‘in business’ at Halifax, Yorkshire, England. In his spare time he prepared numerous manuscripts for publication and reorganized the chaotic Bankfield Museum … His most notable publications include works based on information provided by others and remain standard texts: The Tasmanian Aborigines (1890), which was republished in 1899 in what Roth rejoiced as near ‘absolute completeness’ on the subject; The Natives of Sarawak and British North Borneo (1896); and Great Benin: Its Customs, Art and Horrors (1903)” (ADB).

Quarto (248 x 180 mm). Original red cloth over bevelled boards, spine lettered in gilt, vignette to front board gilt, top edge gilt, black coated endpapers. 275 illustrations to the text, from engravings and photographs. Contemporary bookseller’s ticket (Thornton and Sons, Oxford) to front pastedown, departmental ink-stamp to front free endpaper verso and initial blank. Spine sunned with manuscript shelf-mark in gilt, extremities lightly bumped and rubbed, a few small marks to covers, bookplate skilfully removed from front pastedown. A very good copy.

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