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HUNTER, F. M.

An Account of the British Settlement of Aden in Arabia.

London: Trübner & Co., 1877 Stock Code: 144018
£15,000.00
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Early photographs of Aden

First and only edition of this important monograph, the rare "presentation issue" with the superb photographic plates; commercial records show two copies only, one with Maggs (1954, catalogue no. 824) and another through Sotheby's (1999). Inscribed on the half-title by the recipient "E. V. Stace a kind present from the Author", his signature repeated on the title page. Lieutenant-Colonel Stace was Assistant Political Resident at Aden.

Hunter's book was a double first: the first to give a photographic record of Aden and the first substantial work on the British settlement. It followed his own The Aden Handbook: a Summary of Useful Information regarding the Settlement (London: Harrison, 1873), a slim, official guide of 72 pages. The fine sequence of albumen prints is bookended by views, including one of the Aden Residency bungalow, and another of Al-Hautah "capital of the Lahej District, showing the Sultan's Palace". But it is, perhaps, the images of Arabs, Jews, and Somalis that are most interesting and reflect Aden's celebrated diversity. These portraits show a sensitivity often lacking from the usual depiction of "types", in particular those of the "Arab coal coolie" and "half-caste Arab woman", and the affecting and striking image of a "Somali girl". The photographs remain uncredited, although they may be the work of one of the photographers mentioned in Hunter's text: "There are two depôts, both located at Steamer Point, where portraits are taken by photography; they are, however, but indifferently patronised. Views of the different places of interest in the Settlement and neighbourhood can be obtained, and as they have been taken by an amateur who thoroughly understood the art, they are worth the small sum charged for each copy. An excellent panoramic view of the camp was taken by this artist, and can be purchased for Rs.6 per copy" (p. 86). Alternatively, they may be the work of the studio established in Aden in 1869 by the Portuguese photographer A. C. Gomes, who was appointed Government Photographer for the Fortifications (see Macmillan, p. 134); Gomes moved to Zanzibar in the early 1870s.

The work is divided into six parts, devoted to Geography and General Aspects; The People; Supplies, Trade & Commerce; Administration; Political Relations and History; Miscellaneous. The first appendix is a "list of authorities" (pp. 197-202), a thorough listing which cites classical sources, the work of 14th century Kurdish geographer Abulfeda, Ibn Batuta, the Aden author Ahmad Ba Makramah (from a manuscript in Hunter's possession), and standard European accounts such as those by Burton, Burckhardt, and Niebuhr. Hunter notes in his preface that the it was prepared at the request of Sir William Wilson Hunter, director-general of statistics in India, and that "several subjects have been treated very cursorily owing to the absence of reliable data, but this very incompleteness will serve a purpose The compilation has been prepared in the intervals of current duties, and it is entirely due to the consideration shown the compiler by Brigadier-General Schneider, the Political resident, that any measure of success has been attained". Frederick Mercer Hunter (1844-1898), born in Bengal, served with the 106th Foot (Bombay Light Infantry) and was acting and assistant political resident and cantonment magistrate at Aden. He was also the co-author of An Account of the Arab Tribes in the Vicinity of Aden (Bombay: Government Central Press, 1886).

The recipient of this copy, Edward Vincent Stace RA (1841-1903), was born in Cork, Ireland, son of Colonel William Crawley Stace; promoted lieutenant 1861; administrator in Rajpipla State, India (1885-6); he was also the author of An English-Arabic Vocabulary for the use of Students of the Colloquial (1893). Both Hunter and Stace acted as successive governors of Somaliland, Hunter in 1884-8 and Stace in 1888-93, when the then-Protectorate was administered by the British out of Aden.

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Description

Octavo (213 x 135 mm). Contemporary half calf, spine richly gilt in compartments, red and black twin labes, sides and corners trimmed with a gilt foliate roll, Serpentine pattern marbled sides and endpapers.

Illustrations

2 folding coloured maps, 15 original mounted albumen prints, 9 of them 90 x 60 mm of "types", 6 of them double-page (c. 167 x 230 mm) views on stub-mounted bifolia

Condition

Binding professionally and judiciously refurbished, closed tears to first map expertly repaired. A very good copy.

Bibliography

Allister Macmillan, Eastern Africa and Rhodesia: Historical and Descriptive, Commercial and Industrial, Facts, Figures, and Resources, 1930.

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