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DUNCAN, John.

Travels in Western Africa in 1845 & 1846,

comprising a Journey from Whydah, through the Kingdom of Dahomey, to Adofoodia, in the Interior.

Published: London: Richard Bentley, 1847

Stock code: 91170

Price: £650

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition. Duncan (1805-49) was a British soldier and traveller whose first foray into the African continent was as master-at-arms onboard one of three vessels taking part in the government-sponsored 1841 Niger expedition under command of captain H. D. Trotter. Travels in Western Africa is his account of his second expedition, which he proposed to and had approved by the Royal Geographical Society in 1844. Charting Duncan’s exploration of the kingdom of Dahomey, the book outlines local traditions and culture, the slave trade and the influence of the de Sousa family, as well as the relationship between the Dahomean king and local Mahi leaders. The Royal Geographical Society considered it to have added greatly to contemporary understanding of the interior of Western Africa. Shortly after publication, Duncan returned to Africa with the intention to continue exploring the western region. However, taken ill with fever on the journey back to Dahomey, he died onboard HMS Kingfisher in the Bight of Benin.

2 volumes octavo (201 x 120 mm). Original green fine-ribbed cloth, titles to spines gilt, double frames and decorative centrepieces to boards in blind, pale yellow endpapers. Engraved portrait frontispiece, 2 tinted lithographic plates by Hullmandel, two woodcut illustrations, and one engraved folding map by J. & C. Walker. A few minor stains to boards, spines sunned, spine ends and corners bumped and a touch worn, inner hinges of Volume I cracked, text blocks strained in a few places, a few roughly opened pages, light foxing to prelims, endmatter, and plate-adjacent leaves, occasional minor spotting to margins, short closed tear to folding map stub. A very good set.

Bibliography: Embacher p. 102; Hess & Coger 5994.

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