"pioneering botanical, entomological, and petrographic observations"

Townson, Robert. Travels in Hungary, with a Short Account of Vienna in the Year 1793.

London, G. G. & J. Robinson, 1797.

4to. With folding hand-coloured engr. map, 16 engr. plates (some folding), and folding engr. table. Modern half calf with giltstamped red spine label and marbled boards. All edges marbled.


First edition of "the best English work respecting Hungary" (Cox), soon translated into Dutch and French. Includes a chapter entitled "Alpine Excursions", describing the author's plant hunting activities. The chapter on Vienna, an account of which historiography has taken surprisingly little notice, deals extensively with the local gluttonous eating habits first described (and since immortalized) by Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini three and a half centuries earlier. Townson continues to describe at length the Imperial hothouses and zoo at Schönbrunn Palace. The book is also "a work valuable to the natural historian, particularly the mineralogist; it also contains a very particular account of the Tokay wines" (Lowndes).

The Surrey-born naturalist Robert Townson (1762-1827) took a year off from his studies at Göttingen, traveling to Vienna and throughout Austrian Habsburg lands. "He returned to Göttingen and published his first works, on reptilian physiology, in 1794 and 1795. He returned home in 1795 and was awarded the degree of LLD in 1796 by Edinburgh University. He settled again in Shropshire where his 'Travels in Hungary' (1797) was written. This contained pioneering botanical, entomological, and petrographic observations and spirited descriptions of his exploits, including those in the Tatra Mountains and in Slovakian caves" (ODNB).

The plate showing the Polish salt-mines is bound after p. 488 instead of p. 388. An excellent copy in an appealing modern binding.


Cox I, 168. Brunet VI, 20298. Not in Nissen (BBI) nor Simon (Bibl. Vin.) nor Simon (Bibl. Gastr.).

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