Description

    The First Separate Account of Travels in the Interior of Africa by an English Traveller

    Richard Jobson. The Golden Trade: or, A discovery of the River Gambra, and the Golden Trade of the Aethiopians. Also, The Commerce with a great blacke Merchant, called Buckor Sano, and his report of the houses covered with Gold, and other strange observations for the good of our owne country; Set downe as they were collected in travelling, part of the years, 1620. and 1621. London: Printed by Nicholas Okes, and are to be sold by Nicholas Bourne, 1623.

    First edition of the first separate account of travels in the interior of Africa by an English traveler. Small quarto (7.125 x 5.3125 inches; 182 x 135 mm.). [6], 143, 152-166 pages (A4 (-A1) B-V4 X4 (-X4)). Bound without the first and last (blank?) leaves. Numbers 144-151 omitted in pagination. Decorative woodcut and typographic head-pieces, decorative woodcut initials.

    Nineteenth-century full brown morocco. Covers with central gilt arms of The Society of Writers to the Signet, spine ruled in blind and lettered in gilt in compartments with five raised bands, board edges and turn-ins decoratively tooled in gilt, all edges gilt. Stab-holes visible throughout in the gutter margin. Binding a little rubbed, joints neatly repaired, head of spine chipped away. First and last leaves slightly browned, a few small rust spots in the text, a few ink stains at the foot of pages 84 and 85. Title with small paper repair in the upper gutter margin, small (rust?) hole repaired, affecting two letters, and another tiny hole repaired, not affecting text. Lower blank corner of F2 (pages 35/36) renewed. An excellent copy, from the library of the Society of Writers to the Signet (Edinburgh), with blue paper shelf label ("103:g:54") on front pastedown and bookplate of John Ralph Willis on front pastedown.

    Richard Jobson (fl. 1620-1623), "merchant and travel writer, described himself as a gentleman, but nothing is known of his family or youth beyond references in his book to experience in Ireland. In 1620 he 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, or, A Discovery of the River Gambra, and the Golden Trade of the Aethiopians (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. A more lucid, much abbreviated version was published, with his assistance, by Samuel Purchas in his Hakluytus Posthumus, or, Purchas his Pilgrimes (1625). No further details of Jobson's life or death are known" (ODNB).

    When offered slaves [in the Gambia] by Buckor Sano, the author (on page 89) refused to buy them with the following words: "hee shewed unto mee, certain young blacke women, who were standing by themselves, and had white strings crosse their bodies, which hee told me were slaves, brought for me to buy, I made answer, We were a people, who did not deale in any such commodities, neither did wee buy or sell one another, or any that had our owne shapes; he seemed to marvell much at it, and told us, it was the only marchandize, they carried downe into the country, where they fetcht all their salt, and that they were solde there to white men, who earnestly desired them, especially such young women, as hee had brought for us: we answered, They were another kinde of people different from us, but for our part, if they had no other commodities, we would returne againe." From the Professor John Ralph Willis Collection of Rare Africana.
    ESTC S10773. STC (2nd ed.) 14623.


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