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WOLFF, Joseph.

Narrative of a Mission to Bokhara, in the Years 1843-1845.

To ascertain the Fate of Colonel Stoddart and Captain Conolly.

Published: New York: Harper & Brothers, 1845

Stock code: 103499

Price: £450

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First US edition, first published in the UK in the same year. Joseph Wolff, “that most curious of missionaries” (Blackmer), was the son of a rabbi from Bavaria, he converted firstly to Catholicism, and subsequently to Anglicanism. In 1821 he began “his extraordinary nomadic career as a missionary to the Jews of the Near East and central Asia. Between 1821 and 1826 he travelled as a missionary in Egypt, the Sinai, the Holy Land, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, and the Crimea.” (ODNB) In 1827 he undertook another expedition that took him through “Corfu, Alexandria, Beirut, Cyprus, Cairo, Jerusalem, Anatolia, Constantinople, Armenia, Persia, and Khorasan, where in November 1831 brigands robbed and enslaved him…he then traversed Bukhara and Balkh, and reached Kabul, emerging from central Asia in a state of nudity after having been plundered and compelled to march 600 miles without clothing.” He crossed India from Ludhiana to Bombay and returned to England via Egypt and Malta. Trips to Abyssinia and America followed, and in 1843 he was commissioned to return to Bokhara to seek out information concerning Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Stoddart and Captain Arthur Conolly, two players of The Great Game held there as spies. Unbeknownst to Wolff or his sponsors both officers had been executed in 1842 soon after their capture, which fact Wolff “eventually discovered after an amazing series of adventures in which he barely escaped with his life. He was accompanied by Abdul Wahab, a painter and watchmaker who produced the illustrations for the book” (Blackmer).

Octavo. Original sage green diagonal combed cloth embossed, title gilt to the spine, elaborate foliate panelling to the boards. Tissue-guarded frontispiece and 8 other similar plates. A little rubbed, corners bumped, light browning, library bookplate of Maryville College, St. Louis, to the front pastedown, small ink-stamp to the tail of the title page, and neatly inked gift inscription verso of the front free endpaper.

Bibliography: Blackmer 1833, this edition; Wilson p246; Yakushi W108.

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