Oriental Field Sports. Being a Complete, Detailed, and Accurate Description of the Wild Sports of the East…

Color : Contemporary colors
Condition : A+
Reference : 163


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Oblong folio ; [6], ii, 150, [2] pp., 40 plates. Red half-shagreen, marbled paper over cardboards, part of the original blue paper wrapper showing the lion, cut out and pasted over the upper cover, smooth decorated spine, gilt edges. (small tear to last blank leaf without loss).

First edition, Fisrt issue.

"The most beautiful book on Indian sport in existence" (Schwerdt).

A fine copy of the first edition illustrated with a frontispiece representing a lion in eight colours using stencils, and 40 beautiful aquatints in colours enhanced by hand by H. Mercke, J. Hamble and Vivares after Samuel Howitt’s watercolours made on Williamson's drawings. With watermarks J. Wathman 1804 (for the plates) and E & P 1804 (for the text). With plate XXXI showing the title "Hunting Jackalls".

The plates, captioned in English and French, depict numerous hunting scenes from the period and are accompanied by a variety of original and authentic anecdotes from Thomas Williamson's manuscript and drawings. After spending two decades in Bengal as an officer in a British regiment, Williamson returned to England. His knowledge of sports and wildlife in India caught the attention of engraver and illustrated book publisher Edward Orme, who asked Hewitt, a famous painter of big game hunting scenes, to create watercolours from Williamson's sketches. The resulting aquatints depict majestically hunting scenes, landscapes and wildlife in India at the time. Originally published in 20 parts between 1805 and 1807, the work, as stated in the preface, explores more than just sports, and is offered to the public as representing the manners, customs, landscapes and costumes of a territory now intimately blended with the British Empire.

Complete copy, with the dedication to King George III by His Majesty's publisher and engraver Edward Orme, the preface, index, and list of plates in English and French.

Provenance: Henry C. B. Bowles bookplate pasted inside front cover.

References: Schwerdt II, 297-298 ; Abbey Travel 427 ; Tooley 508 ; Brunet V, 1456 ; Bénézit V, 636.