3 p.l. (lacking the first leaf, a blank; title a little soiled), 143, 152-66 pp. Small 4to, cont. English limp vellum. London: N. Okes for N. Bourne, 1623.
First edition of one of the great early English accounts of the exploration of the interior of Africa and the first to be published separately (others appear in collections); it is a classic account of the search for gold.
Ghana, the earliest known empire of the western Sudan, first entered the historical consciousness of North Africa near the end of the eighth century but probably originated long before. Famous to North Africans as the “Land of Gold,” Ghana (which, apart from its name, has no historical connection with modern-day Ghana) was said to possess sophisticated methods of administration and taxation, large armies, and a monopoly over the notoriously well-concealed gold mines. Ghana was the main supplier of gold in the trans-Saharan trade, which linked the Mediterranean economies that demanded gold — and could supply salt — to the sub-Saharan economies, where gold was abundant.
In 1620, “Jobson (fl. 1620–23), merchant and travel writer…was sent as one of the supercargoes on the third of a series of expeditions up the Gambia River undertaken by a group of London entrepreneurs who had in 1619 been granted a crown patent to trade in west Africa. Although the area was already frequented by English traders, the first two expeditions to tap the age-old trans-Saharan gold trade, still known in Europe only from its terminus in the Moorish states of north Africa, had failed. Jobson and his companions reached the Gambia in November 1620, established a base near the mouth, and then sailed some 200 miles up the river until it became too shallow to continue. Jobson, with nine of the crew and some African guides, then went on in an open rowing boat to Tenda (in modern Senegal), where, he had been told, he would find an itinerant gold trader, Buckor Sano. Sano was delighted to meet him. He had no gold then available but promised that if they returned he could easily supply it in exchange for imported trade goods. After ten days Jobson and his party returned, rejoined the ship, and left the Gambia in June 1621…
“On his return Jobson published an account of the expedition, hoping to persuade the ‘gentlemen adventurers’ to send out another. But none was sent. His book, however, entitled The Golden Trade…(1623; reprinted 1904), the first account of the area in English, attracted interest. It is a garrulous, disorganized production, but full of detailed accounts of the country — the geography, the customs he observed among the inhabitants, and the flora and fauna.”–ODNB. There is also much about the mining of gold.
A delicious copy of a book of considerable rarity. With a modern note stating this copy comes from the library of the great collector King Manuel of Portugal.
❧ NTSC 14623.
Item ID: 4753