LAIRD, Macgregor, and R.A.K. OLDFIELD. Narrative of an Expedition into the Interior of Africa, by the River Niger, in the Steam-Vessels Quorra and Alburkah, in 1832, 1833, and 1834. London, Richard Bentley, 1837.
Two volumes, 8vo. Contemporary half-calf over marbled boards, spines with raised bands, green morocco lettering-pieces; pp. xv, 451; vii, 447; 6 engraved and aquatint plates, one lithographic map; slight wear to binding, a little toning to plates, as usual, a very good and clean copy.
First edition. In 1831 Richard and John Lander explored the Lower Niger, prompting Macgregor Laird and other Liverpool merchants to form the African Steamship Company for the commercial development of the Niger regions. In 1832 the company despatched two small ships to the Niger, including the Alburkah, a paddle-wheel steamer of 55 tons designed by Laird that became the first iron vessel to make an ocean voyage. Laird accompanied the expedition, which was led by Richard Lander and numbered forty-eight Europeans. All but nine died from fever or, in the case of Lander, from wounds. Laird himself travelled up the Niger to the Benue, which he was the first European to ascend. Though he did not go far up the river, he formed an accurate idea of its source and course. The expedition returned to Liverpool in 1834, Laird and Surgeon R.A.K. Oldfield being the only surviving officers besides William Allen, who accompanied the expedition by order of the Admiralty to survey the river.