DUN, Major T.I. From Cairo to Siwa Across the Libyan Desert With Armoured Cars … A Narrative followed by illuminated Pages of the History and Customs of Siwa Oasis; A Narrative Followed by Illuminated Pages of the History and Customs of the Inhabitants of That Country … Foreword by Field Marshal Sir William Birdwood, Bt. Cairo, E. & R. Schindler, and John Smith & Son., Ltd., .
Folio. Original vellum-backed boards, printed on gold paper, the boards decorated by the author in an elaborate desert design, incorporating all the major sights encountered on the journey, silhouetted against a black background, with the title in red, spine blocked and lettered in gilt, patterned endpapers printed in orange on gold, publisher's bookplate inside front cover; pp. viii, 12, [2, bank], 13-110, , gold and black printed portrait-frontispiece of Akhenaton with tissue guard (only found in this edition), large wood-engraved illustrations throughout, blocked in many different colours, by N. Strekalowsky and students of the School of Applied Art in Cairo, a fold-out to throw clear lithographed map, delineating the route in red, a multi-coloured lithographed "street map", seen from above, with shops ("We know a town better by its Buildings and Shops than by the Names of Its Streets"), 2 mounted photographic plates on gold paper (Queen Nefertiti) and on silver paper (The Sand Dunes East of Cairo) paper, many other photographic illustrations of the British presence in and outside Cairo, and on the journey; light wear to extremities, lower covers with inoffensive scratches, front inner hinge strengthened, a few minor spots here and there, the metallic plates a little oxidized, as usual, otherwise very good, gift inscription, dated Cairo 1933 on front fly-leaf verso.
First edition, one of 175 copies of the de luxe edition of an extraordinary and increasingly rare book production documenting an eccentric reconnaissance across the Western Egyptian and Libyan desert with armoured Rolls Royce cars. The book design is outstanding and several Egyptian artists from the School of Applied Art in Cairo were employed, alongside British designers. Siwa oasis is one of the most interesting places in the Western Desert, as it is mostly populated by Berbers, and same sex marriages and homosexuality are traditionally accepted. One chapter is the Story of Senoussiism, i.e. the history of Mohamed ben Ali es Senoussi and how his followers settled near Bengazi in Lybia. This second edition has one additional woodcut at the beginning, and the colour schemes have been altered. In the editorial at the end Dun relates the difficulties of producing such a book in Egypt. 'All the varied processes of printing, block-making and hand-binding' (final leaf). The book has fittingly been described by one customer as montypythonesque.
'Schindler of Cairo … is a name usually associated with lifts and lists, but in Cairo in the 1930s and ’40s the most prominent Schindler was a printer and publisher of English- and French-language books. From a Downtown office at 41 Sharia Madabegh (now Sharia Sherif), E & R Schindler put out a variety of books on Egyptian subjects, including regularly updated guides to Cairo and Alexandria, along with what were possibly the company’s best-selling titles, Rambles in Cairo and Moslem Builders of Cairo … Schindler’s most curious book, though, was something called From Siwa to Cairo: Across the Libyan Desert with Armoured Cars ... It is not so much the subject matter – a drive across the desert to Siwa and back that took place in late 1932 – as the presentation. An officer in the XIIth Royal Lancers, Major Dun was also a man of culture. His book is part travelogue, part art book. Packaged between golden covers, the pages are embellished with deco-style page ornamentations, woodcuts by members of Cairo’s School of Fine Arts and, running along the bottom of the text, small pen-and-ink sketches of the convoy of 10 Rolls Royce armoured cars, one Leyland radio truck, three Austin Seven cars and a motorcycle making its way across the sands. The charming convoy drawings are credited to N Strekalowsky, but the book offers no further information about the artist. The expedition was completely uneventful, with no accidents or emergencies – the only action was a football match between the British soldiers and their Egyptian counterparts at Sollum' (Andrew Humphreys, Egypt in the Golden Age of Travel online).
COPAC records only 6 copies of this title, all in England.