Swiss Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil featured by Books at Star Dot Star
Copyright © 2006 Bruce Tober - All Rights Reserved
Illustrated by Edward Whymper and from the library of Polar explorer,
Henry George Watkins
Drawn with Pen and Pencil
The book, with text by an anonymous author (variously attributed to
Samuel G Green or The Rev S Manning) includes a frontis chromolithograph of Mont Blanc and many b&w woodcuts
and plates by Whymper who was a Wood-engraver and mountain climber, probably best know for having made the first
ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865.
Born in London, according to Douglas William Freshfield, in the DNB, "while still a youth he entered his father's business in Lambeth as
a wood-engraver and in time succeeded to its control and for many years maintained its reputation for the production
of the highest class of book illustration, until towards the end of the 19th Century, the improvement in cheap
photographic processes destroyed the demand for such work." His woodcuts adorn both his own works, and the
"Alpine Journal," and many books of travel between 1865 and 1895.
"Among his more important productions," according to Freshfield, "were Josef Wolf's Wild Animals (1874)
and Cassell's Picturesque Europe (1876-1879). Edward, though he seldom exhibited, was, like his father, a water-colour
artist of considerable ability, and it was to this gift that he owed a commission that proved a turning-point in
his life." William Longman, of the eponymous publishing firm, and an early president of the Alpine Club, "needed
illustrations of the then little known mountains of Dauphiné for the second series of Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers
(1862) and Whymper was sent out to make the sketches." It was this adventure which resulted in his fulfilling
a lifelong ambition to become a mountain climber, becoming "one of the leading figures in the conquest of
"In 1864 he took part in the first ascent of the highest mountain in Dauphiné, the Pointe des Écrins,
and of several peaks in the chain of Mont Blanc." The Royal Geographical Society, which in 1892 conferred
on Whymper one of their Royal Medals in recognition of the fact that, apart from his mountaineering exploits, "he
had largely corrected and added to our geographical and physical knowledge of the mountain systems of Ecuador,
fixed the position of all the great Ecuadorian mountains, produced a map constructed from original theodolite observations
extending over 250 miles, and ascertained seventy altitudes by means of three mercurial barometers."
This copy of the book was purchased at auction in 2005 and contains the Ex-Libris bookplate of Henry George Watkins
("Gino") (1907-1932), with the slogan "Carpe Diem" and a stag's head topped by a bird, is tipped
in. Watkins was also a mountain climber, and in addition a polar explorer, and a flying enthusiast who made expeditions
in Labrador and Greenland, which helped to open up an Arctic air route.
According to the DNB article by R. N. Rudmore Brown, Watkins's interest in flying "led him to organize and carry
through a large expedition to eastern Greenland in the hope of investigating the possibilities of an air route
between England and Canada across southern Greenland. The British Arctic Air Route expedition of 1930-1931 was
marked by originality in conception and efficiency in execution. All the members were young, and few had previous
polar experience. The expedition learnt from the Eskimo the technique of living off the land, including skill in
hunting and dog-driving. Two parties crossed the ice-sheet of the interior and others did much survey work on a
boat journey along the south-east coast."
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