The Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection: The Collection

  Early Travel Books

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A hand-illuminated copy of the Grand VoyagesA hand-illuminated copy of the Grand Voyages, from a set of six volumes probably done for a member of the Austrian House of Hapsburg, showing a ritual dance performed by Indians native to Virginia.

One section of the Military Collection is devoted to travel books, the majority of which which were published before 1850. These were acquired for their rich illustrations often depicting soldiers or military scenes.

Of particular interest to architectural and social historians are a group of handsome volumes of colored engravings and lithographs with scenes of capital cities, palaces, and other monumental buildings in Argentina, Austria, England, France, Ireland, Mexico, Prussia, Russia and other nations. Published in the 18th and 19th centuries, they are included in this collection because illustrations of military figures play at least a minor role in them. Some of the more important series are the famous Schütz and Ziegler views of Vienna (1794), Pyne's History of the Royal Residences (London, 1819) and Malton's Picturesque and Descriptive View of the City of Dublin (London, 1792-1794); also Topographie Pittoresque des États Prussiens (Berlin, 1788), and Paris et ses Environs ( 1858). Other images from the Military Collection can be viewed in the digital collection titled Paris: Capital of the 19th Century.

The most important item depicting and describing early travels in the Western Hemisphere is Theodor de Bry's six-volume Grands Voyages (Frankfurt, 1590-1596), depicted above, which contains many illustrations of native costume and scenes and European military and naval dress. Another rare item is a scroll containing 12 water-color panels depicting Admiral Perry's expedition to Japan in 1854.

There are several illustrated accounts by European travellers of journeys through Africa and Asia. Examples include William Hodges's Travels in India, During the Years 1780, 1781, 1782, and 1783, published in 1794, and Picturesque Scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore by James Hunter (1805). One early book on West Africa is T. Edward Bowdich's Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee (1819).