Antiquarian Auctions

Auction #75 begins on
30 May 2019 16:30 GMT

Henry Baker TRISTRAM (1822-1906).

The Survey of Western Palestine. The Fauna and Flora of Palestine

Natural History of Israel and other Biblical lands, hand-coloured plates by Joseph Smith.

Published: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund, London, 1884

Edition: First edition

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NATURAL HISTORY of Israel and other Biblical lands. - Henry Baker TRISTRAM (1822-1906).

The Survey of Western Palestine. The Fauna and Flora of Palestine

London: published by the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund, 1884. Large 4to (11 x 8 1/2ins; 280 x 217mm). pp. [i-]xxii; [1-]455. 20 lithographed plates (13 hand colored), most by Joseph Smit (occasional spotting, light old dampstaining to upper blank margins of three plates, small voids to upper blank margins of pp.355/356, and 359/360).

Original cloth, blocked in gilt and blind (spine faded and chipped at head and foot, upper cover lightly sunned, inner hinges holding, but with splits to glazed-paper endpapers)

Provenance: contemporary inscription in an unidentified hand "In remembrance of a pleasant ride together through Palestine in the spring of 1886 / Wareham Rectory [Dorset, England] / May 11th 1886"

A first edition of this monumental work ("the first detailed survey") on the fauna and flora of the region. Includes the plates of mammals and birds beautifully hand-colored, most lithographed by the important natural history artist, Joseph Smit.

The present work was sold as a 'stand alone' work of natural history, but was also part of the much larger work published by the Palestine Exploration Fund, which concentrated on publishing the results of the physical/topographical survey. The area covered includes modern day Israel and the Palestine Territories, and the southernmost part of Lebanon and Jordan as far as the River Jordan. "An account of the natural products of Palestine, based chiefly on the author's own observations and collections secured during four visits to the country. In the section on birds 348 species are enumerated, with the addition of brief notes on their occurrence and geographical distribution" (Anker).

Tristram "was the son of the Rev. Henry Baker Tristram, ... He studied at Durham School and Lincoln College, Oxford. In 1846 he was ordained a priest. ...[He]...was secretary to the governor of Bermuda from 1847 to 1849. He explored the Sahara desert, and in 1858 visited Palestine, returning there in 1863 and 1872, and dividing his time between natural history observations and identifying localities mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. In 1873 he became canon of Durham Cathedral. In 1881 he travelled again to Palestine, ... Tristram was a founder and original member of the British Ornithologists' Union, and appointed a fellow of the Royal Society in 1868. Edward Bartlett, an English ornithologist and son of Abraham Dee Bartlett, accompanied Tristram to Palestine in 1863-1864." (Wikipedia)

The colored plates are the work of Dutch zoological illustrator, Joseph Smit (1836-1929). He received his first substantial commission when he was asked to lithograph the birds of the Dutch East Indies for Hermann Schlegel of the Leiden Museum. His skill was such that he attracted the attention of Philip Sclater who invited Smit to London with the promise of the commission to produce all of the lithographs of the new and rare species of American birds included in Sclater's "Exotic Ornithology" (published in parts between 1866 and 1869). Subsequently, Smit remained in London and was much in demand during the last flowering of the hand-coloured natural history lithograph. The present work includes fine examples of his work when he was at the height of his powers as an illustrator. 

References: Nissen ZBI 417; Anker 510.

  • Binding Condition: Acceptable
  • Overall Condition: Acceptable
  • Size: 11 x 8 1/2ins; 280 x 217mm
  • Sold By: Shadowrock Rare Books
  • Contact Person: Adam Langlands
  • Country: United States
  • Email: adamlanglands@gmail.com
  • Telephone: 001-860-248-1547
  • Preferred Payment Methods: Paypal, US$ checks and wire transfers, major credit cards through paypal
  • Trade Associations: AA Approved


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