A collection of articles and maps relating to the exploration of Oman, published in the Geographical Journal.
Articles: a) STIFFE, Arthur. Ancient Trading Centres of the Persian Gulf. [and:] SYKES, P[ercy] Molesworth. Recent Journeys in Persia; JENNINGS-BRAMLY, Wilfred. A Journey to Siwa in September and October, 1896. [In:] Geographical Journal (GJ), Vol. X No. 6, December, 1897; b) MILES, S[amuel] B[arrett]. On the Border of the Great Desert. A Journey into Oman. London: RGS, 1910; c) COX, Sir Percy. Some Excursions in Oman. [and:] RYDER, C. H. D. The Demarcation of the Turco-Persian Boundary in 1913–14. [In:] GJ, Vol. LXVI No. 3, September 1925; d) THOMAS, Bertram. A Journey into Rub' al Khali - the Southern Arabian Desert. [In:] GJ, Vol. LXXVII No. 1, January 1931. Loose maps: e) THOMAS, Bertram. "Part of South East Arabia from a route traverse." [Originally published with article "The South-Eastern Borderlands of Rub' al-Khali" in GJ, Vol. LXXIII No. 3, March 1929]; f) THOMAS, Bertram. "Route Traverse across the Rub' al Khali from Dhufar to Doha, 1930-31" [originally published with article "A Camel Journey across the Rub' al Khali"; in The Geographical Journal, Vol. LXXVIII No. 3, September 1931; g) CHEESMAN, R. E. "Routes between 'Oqair and Jabrin Oasis in Eastern Nejd" [originally published with article "The Deserts of Jafura and Jabrin"; in GJ, Vol. LXV No. 2, February 1925].London : 1897-1931 Stock Code: 96109
NotesFirst editions. An excellent collection of rare Royal Geographical Journals and maps relating to Oman and its hinterland, extending to what is now territory belonging to the United Arab Emirates, produced by British pioneers of Arabian exploration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
a) Stiffe provides a historical and geographical survey of Muscat and its hinterland from antiquity to the early 20th century, with a summary of his findings at the 16th-century Portuguese fort of Merani. Stiffe (1831-1912) served in the Indian Navy before becoming engineer-in-chief to the Indian Government, overseeing the laying of telegraph cables across the Persian Gulf; he would write a companion piece on Bahrain four years later.
Sykes (1867-1945) "had become interested in Persia and the 'great game' at a young age, undertaking his first intelligence-gathering trip in 1892, to Samarkand on the recently opened Trans-Caspian railway, and he made his first Persian journey in 1893, travelling through on horseback for six months. He returned to Persia in October, entrusted with the task of building friendly relations with local leaders, and spent until June 1894 surveying and mapping, and climbing the extinct 12,500 foot volcano Kuh-e-Taftan. Later in the year Sykes was appointed the first British consul for Kerman and Persian Baluchistan, areas of growing political and economic interest to the government of India to whom he was primarily responsible and for whom he undertook a variety of assignments" (ODNB).
Jennings-Bramly (1871-1960), a British intelligence officer, describes how he became the first modern traveller to gain access to the "inner town" of Siwa in the Libyan Desert.
b) Miles describes his final voyage into the Omani interior, which "took him to the borders of the Great Desert or the Empty Quarter in December 1885. He traversed most of the interior of Oman including Izki, Wadi Halfin, Manah, Adam, Izz, Nizwa, Buhla, Yabreen, Jabel al-Khoor, Tanuf, al-Hamra and Ibri. Then he went to Dhank, Arrustak, Assuwaik and Barka. Throughout this extensive journey, Miles managed to gather considerable details about the people and their customs, manners and history" (Hajri, British Travel-Writing on Oman, p. 141), observations collected in his posthumous work, The Countries and Tribes of the Persian Gulf (1919).
In 1872 Miles was appointed Political Agent and Consul at Muscat, a post he held until 1886. During his tenure he travelled widely across Oman, including parts now belonging to the UAE. Nevertheless, "Miles was not a mere political agent or an observant traveller but a classical scholar and Arabist Miles's writing provides observations on themes that were seldom mentioned by his British predecessors" (ibid., p. 162); his successors on the other hand greatly benefited from his observations, in particular Percy Cox, Political Agent at Muscat from 1904 to 1914.
c) Celebrated diplomatist and colonial administrator Cox (1864-1937) recounts two journeys made during his tenure as Political Agent in Muscat some 20 years previously: "first, from Abu Dhabi to Baraimi and thence onwards along the fringe of Oman to the desert side of the Jabal Akhdhar or Green Mountains and home to Muscat by the Wadi Samail secondly, from Ras al-Khaima to Baraimi, and thence direct to the coast at Shinas and on the seashore to Sohar" (p. 193). He became the first European to traverse the route from Ras al-Khaima inland to Dhank, and expanded considerably on the observations made by previous travellers, such as Wellsted (1835) and Miles (1885).
Ryder, a noted military engineer who eventually served as surveyor-general of India, "headed the British survey party involved in the Turco-Persian frontier commission. After a century of international shilly-shallying over the border, the work of the commission proved unexpectedly smooth and good-humoured, something which the leader of the British delegation, Arnold Wilson, attributed partly to the trust that the Russian, Persian, and Turkish commissioners placed in Ryder, permitting him to correct and alter their maps. By 27 October 1914 the commission had demarcated 1180 miles of the frontier from the Persian Gulf to Mount Ararat. Two days later Ryder and Wilson crossed the border into Russia, just hours short of Turkey's entry into the war" (ODNB).
d) Thomas relates "his first inland reconnaissance into the Rub' al-Khali" (Howgego), following two previous journeys along the coast: one in 1926 and his "extraordinary 1000-kilometre camel ride" in 1927-28. On his comparatively brief voyage, Thomas set out northward from Salalah in January 1930, "reaching the head of Wadi Umm al Hait at Shisur. From here he proceeded northeast along the Wadi Mugshin for nearly 250 kilometres, reaching the Umm oasis on the edge of the sand desert. He returned by a parallel but not identical route to Salalah" and was back at origin by February. The next year, he would make the first traverse of the Empty Quarter by a European (detailed in Vol. LXXVIII No. 3 of the present publication).
Together 7 items: 4 octavo pamphlets, 3 loose maps. Pamphlets: Stiffe et al. in original light blue printed wrappers; Miles, recent blue light card wrappers with printed paper label to front panel; Cox/Ryder, original blue printed wrappers; Thomas, recent blue boards, printed paper label to front board.
Illustrations: a) Stiffe: 2 full-page sketches of Muscat, sketch of Fort of Felej and 2 of inscriptions found at Fort Mirani in text, folding map to rear. Sykes: 9 images after paintings and photographs in text, folding sketch map of Persia. Jennings-Bram
Condition: a) lightly sunned, foxing to edges very occasionally encroaching onto margins; a very good copy; b) short closed tear along map fold to no loss, about very good. c) inner hinge very slightly starting at head, else excellent. e) Thomas map: a couple of minor tears; still very good. g) Cheesman map: closed tear along middle fold, still exceptionally bright; good condition. Very good condition overall.
With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.
Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220