REASONS FOR RETURNING THE GOLD MEDAL OF THE GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY OF FRANCE AND FOR WITHDRAWING FROM ITS MEMBERSHIP; In a Letter to M. De La Roquette, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Geographical Society of France

(London: James Madden, 1851).

EXTREMELY RARE, ACCORDING TO AVAILABLE RECORDS, ONLY FOUR COPIES ARE NOTED IN INSTITUTIONAL HOLDINGS, TWO BELONG TO THE BRITISH MUSEUM AND ONE TO THE VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM. THIS IS VERY POSSIBLY THE ONLY COPY IN PRIVATE HANDS AND THE ONLY KNOWN INSCRIBED COPY OF THIS EXTREMELY RARE WORK.
Dr. Beke was one of the first and foremost western experts on Abyssinia and the regions of the Nile tributaries. His expedition of 1840 was the first to make known the true physical structure of Abyssinia and of eastern Africa in general. He fixed the latitude of more than seventy stations, and mapped upwards of 70,000 square miles of country. He visited and mapped the watershed between the Nile and the Hawash, along a line of fifty miles northward of Ankober, and he discovered the existence of the river Gojeb. He constructed a very valuable map of Gojam and Damot, and determined approximately the course of the Abai.
It was for these important accomplishments that Dr. Beke was awarded the Gold Medal from both the Royal Geographical Society of London and the Geographical Society of France. He would remain a member of the Society of France for several years, during which time he published many of the most important works to that date on the Nile sources and Abyssinia.
In 1849 M. Antoine d'Abbadie, a French traveler, having published an account of his journey into Kaffa for the purpose of exploring the sources of the Nile, was awarded the annual prize for the most important discovery by the Geographical Society of France. Beke considered d'Abbadie's findings to be bogus, and in fact doubted that the expedition ever took place. Thus he issued a critical examination of these claims, severely criticizing this 'pretended journey' and in doing so caused a significant controversy to arise.
The charges made by Beke, and M. d'Abbadie's defence, were brought before the society, and after considerable discussion the society decided that no action against d'Abbadie should be taken. This decision was entirely unsatisfactory to Beke, so he returned the gold medal which they had awarded him and withdrew altogether from the society.
This scarce published letter would be Beke’s last word on the subject. It is uncommonly rare in any state and this copy, inscribed to Sir Thomas Phillips from the author, is the only inscribed or presentation copy we are aware of. Sir Thomas Phillips was a Baronet, but is best known as a highly important bibliophile and antiquarian. The Phillips Collection was one of the finest private libraries of its time. Item #18637

EXTREMELY RARE, FIRST AND ONLY EDITION, INSCRIBED PRESENTATION COPY FROM THE AUTHOR TO SIR THOMAS PHILLIPPS, OWNER OF THE PHILLIPPS COLLECTION. 8vo, original printed and sewn wrappers. 12pp. A very fine copy, completely in original state and excellently preserved.

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Price: $1,850.00