Recent Acquisitions feature: William Webb’s journal

Our Recent Acquisitions Evening is in just two days. As we eagerly await the event, we continue our blog feature of recently acquired items that will be on display on Wednesday evening.

William Webb journal

William Webb’s A Record of My Journey from London Bridge to Berlin Thence to Persia via the Baltic Volga & Caspian Sea is the only known copy of Webb’s travelogue documenting his travels through Persia in 1870.

William Webb traveled to Tehran from London to begin a new job as a signaler for the Indo-European Telegraph Company. The title of the book references a stop in Berlin, where Webb was trained to use cutting-edge high-speed telegraph equipment.

Webb’s diary records an arduous two-month-long journey from Berlin to Tehran, during which Webb faced hardships including being thrown from his horse and having two teeth pulled.

William Webb journal
This illustration, done by a Persian artist, depicts Webb (on the right). The person on the left is identified in a caption as Mirza M. Hussein, “who gained the highest no. of marks at the college for the English language under examination of Capt. Pearson.”

The book’s text, in a beautiful script, was done using lithographic printing at the Royal College of Tehran, also known as Dar al-fonun, the first modern university in Persia. Lithographic printing was the primary method of publishing in Tehran at that time because lithographic printing was better suited to Arabic scripts than movable type.

No record of an earlier lithographed English-language book printed in Persia has been found.

This and many other unusual items will be on display at the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening, a not-under-glass display of some of the Collection’s notable acquisitions. We hope you’ll join us on March 22 for the unique opportunity to see these remarkable items up close.

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