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Signed authors presentation copy of a detailed eye-witness account of Senegal ca. 1880,
not for sale: with 2 chromolithographed maps, 3 original albumen prints and 4 wood-engraved views
in a fine presentation binding by Lucien Magnin in Lyon

Essai sur la guerre dans le Soudan.
Lyon, Imprimerie Mougin-Rusand, 1888. Large 8vo (24.5 x 16 cm). With 2 large folding chromolithographed maps (50 x 60 cm; map images 44 x 58 cm; scale 1: 1,000,000), 4 wood-engraved illustrations in the text and 3 original photographic albumen prints (10.5 x 13 cm) mounted on paperboard plates. Contemporary gold-tooled, black goatskin morocco (signed at the foot of the front turn-in by Lucien Magnin in Lyon), richly gold-tooled spine, richly gold-tooled turn-ins, double fillets on board edges, gilt edges. [4], 184 pp.
€ 6,500
A detailed eye-witness account of Senegal in the years 1879 to 1883, by Félix Szymanski (1853-1923), an artillery captain of the French marine in the Senegal campaigns of 1879 to 1883. The first half of the book provides a general description of Senegal and its people and resources, while the second half discusses the colonial expeditions, administration and operations. As a whole it gives us an intensive view of the life of both natives and colonial troops in Senegal ca. 1880.
The title of the book can cause confusion: the French used "Soudan" at this date to refer to the Sahel region along the southern edge of the Sahara desert from Senegal to Sudan. Szymanski notes that "le Soudan français" comprises Senegambia and parts of Niger, more or less the modern Senegal. This is the region discussed in the book and shown in the two folding maps, and explicitly called Senegal. While the French were not engaged in a war in Senegal at this time, they were trying to secure the region and develop the railways and other infrastructure, which inevitably led to skirmishes and other incidents.
Szymanski had the book printed in an edition of 100 copies, but did not put them on sale. The book is therefore extremely rare. Szymanski clearly had the present copy bound for presentation, for he wrote and signed a presentation inscription "A mon cher pere monsieur le docteur Goncet". Lyon offered one of the best binders of the time, Lucien Magnin (1849-1903), who had won a gold medal for his bindings at the 1884 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs ("choix des peaux, harmonie des colours, netteté du dessin, exécution impeccable de la reliure, de la dorure et de la mosaïque") and was to cause a "sensation" with his work at the 1889 Exposition Universelle (Fléty, pp. 117-118).
The albumen prints are somewhat faded as usual, the letterpress leaves show some foxing, minor except on the pages facing the plates or map, and there is a small tear on the fold of one map, but the book is still in very good condition, the binding fine. For background information: Ministère de la Marine et des Colonies, Sénégal et Niger: la France dans lAfrique Occidentale 1879-1883 (1884), pp. 113-232.
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Related Subjects:

Africa  >  Central & West Africa
Book history, education, learning & printing  >  Bindings
Military history  >  Military History 19th & 20th Century