Charing Cross, London & Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony: Edward Stanford & J.W.C. Mackay, 1877. 1st Edition. Hardcover. Thomas Baines (1822 –1875) was an English artist and explorer of British colonial southern Africa and Australia. Today, Baines is best known for his detailed paintings and sketches which give a unique insight into colonial life in southern Africa and Australia. Many of his pictures are held by the National Library of Australia, National Archives of Zimbabwe, National Maritime Museum, Brenthurst Library and the Royal Geographical Society.
In 1870 Baines was granted a concession to explore for gold between the Gweru and Hunyani rivers by Lobengula, leader of the Matabele nation. "Mr. Baines was one of the earliest pioneers in that part of Africa now known as Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe]. Unfortunately his backers in Europe failed to procure the necessary working capital for the exploitation of the venture, so the author missed making a large fortune.
The volume is a most important work, and contains full information of every description upon the subject of the gold discoveries in Matabeleland and Mashonaland, with much curious knowledge of the inhabitants. The book also contains an account of the gold discoveries in the Transvaal [and] gives details of no less than nineteen routes from the various places in South Africa to the newly discovered goldfields. " (See Mendelsshon, Volume I, p.71). This work was published posthumously.
This volume is very good in the original green pictorial cloth, featuring gilt illustrations on the spine and front cover. It contains a two-page folding facsimile letter from Livingstone to Baines, 4 mounted photographic plates, including one of the author and the balance of Baines' paintings, other wood-engraved illustrations in the text, and a folding map in the rear cover pocket. All illustrations, the facsimile letter, and the map are intact and in excellent condition. Also included are a biographical sketch of the author, detailed Tables of Distances and Routes, and 51 pages of advertisements bound in at the rear.
The contents are clean and bright with no spotting, as are the text block edges. There is a split at the title page, but the binding cords are holding solidly. There is an inked previous owner's note on the title page and the front pastedown bears a pasted image of a memorial tablet for Thomas Baines, below which is inked the words "The above Tablet was placed in the parish Church, Durham Hotel." The green cloth covers and decorative gilt are bright and unfaded with excellent spine presentation. There is some mottling at the front cover fore edge and light wear to the corners and spine ends. Item #003918