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ATKINSON, Thomas Witlam.

Oriental and Western Siberia:

a Narrative of Seven Years' Explorations and Adventures in Siberia, Mongolia, the Kirghis Steppes, Chinese Tartary, and part of Central Asia.

London, Hurst and Blackett, 1858 Stock Code: 139393

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First edition of this handsome book. Having trained as a stonemason, Atkinson became an architect carrying out some highly accomplished commissions in the Manchester area. Around 1844 "inspired by Alexander von Humboldt's accounts of Siberia, Atkinson then moved to St Petersburg There, in 1846, he abandoned architecture as a profession for the pursuits of an explorer and topographical artist. Between March and November 1847 he travelled to the Urals, the Kirgiz steppes, and Altai Mountains Between 1848 and 1853 he travelled extensively in the Russian orient, gathering much geographical and geological information. During this time he produced over 500 water-colours of the landscapes and peoples, some of them 5 or 6 feet square After his return to Britain, an exhibition of Atkinson's Siberian and Chinese Tartar scenes was held in 1856 at Colnaghi's Gallery, London. Some of these were lithographed and published in his narratives of his travels." (ODNB) He died in 1861, the Athenaeum describing him in their obituary as "the type of an artistic traveller, thin, lithe, and sinewy, with a wrist like a rock and an eye like a poet's; manner singularly gentle, and air which mingled entreaty with command."

Atkinson was accompanied on his expeditions by his wife, the intrepid Lucy Sherrard Atkinson, whose Recollections of the Tartar Steppes and their Inhabitants was published in 1863, and secured her a civil-list pension of 100. ODNB describes her as an "indefatigable horsewoman who was held in respect by local people both for her equestrian skills and as a markswoman with pistol and rifle... the birth of her son Alatau (named after a nearby mountain and spring), in the absence of a medical attendant, offers a further indication of her unusually independent capabilities".

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Large octavo. Original mid-green straight-grained cloth, gilt lettered and decorated spine, covers with blind ornamental panel, front cover with gilt title within a decorative cartouche and pictorial block based on the illustration at p. 248, pale primrose-yellow-coated endpapers.


Coloured lithographic frontispiece and 19 further tinted lithograph plates (3 in colour, all with tissue guards) by Edmund Walker or Jonathan Needham after Atkinson, printed by Day & Son, 32 wood-engravings to the text and a folding map of Atkinson's rout


Contemporary ticket to front pastedown of Upham and Beet, 46 New Bond Street. Customary foxing, binding just a little shaken yet this remains a decidedly superior copy, the attractive cloth binding fresh and bright.


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