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Sketches in Afghaunistan

Sketches in Afghaunistan

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Published: London Henry Graves & Company; J. W. Allen & Co.; and Day & Haghe, 1842

Stock Code: 102546

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition. Without doubt one of the finest illustrated books on Afghanistan, the plates depicting a selection of superb views on the march - Bolan Pass, Quetta, Khojak Pass, Kandahar, and Kabul. In 1833, after a furlough in England, Atkinson returned to his original profession as surgeon to the 55th NI, and in 1838 was chosen as Superintending Surgeon to the Army of the Indus during the first Afghan War. He was "relieved in the ordinary course of routine shortly after the surrender of Dost Mohammad" and returned to Bengal in 1841 "and thus escaped the fate which awaited the army of occupation" (ODNB).

Atkinson is perhaps best remembered for his translations from Persian, his selections from the Shâh Nâmeh of Firdausi being the most notable, but he evidently possessed considerable, if amateur, artistic abilities. Archer and Lightbown note that while in Calcutta both Atkinson and his wife, Jane, took lessons with George Chinnery. The highly detailed, yet skilfully composed and sensitively coloured, originals for these plates, sixteen of which are now in the British Museum, show clearly that the lithographers, Louis and Charles Haghe (named on the list of plates), had little "working up" or "improving" to do, to create highly attractive and effective images. This work is often encountered loose, ragged and heavily foxed. This is a really superior copy, largely clean and bright, carefully restored.

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Large folio (540 x 367 mm). Original green morocco-backed green moiré boards, title gilt to spine and front board, French fillet in blind and double gilt rule, thick and thin at spine edges, cream endpapers.


Single-tint lithographic title page and 25 similar plates, lithographic dedication leaf, and letterpress leaf of descriptions, printed in blue in double column. All original guard-sheets in place.


Elaborate armorial bookplate of Hugh, 2nd Duke of Westminster to front pastedown. Just a little rubbed, almost imperceptibly recased where shaken loose from the gutta-percha, some foxing as usual, but a very good copy indeed.


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