A European merchant between Arabia, Northern Africa and the west coast of India

Westendarp, Charles (Carl), German-British merchant and traveller (born 1835). Autograph travel and trade journal from the Middle East.

Aden, Bombay, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Berbera etc., 1859-1860.

8vo. (4), 256, (4) pp. German manuscript on paper. With 12 small drawings in the text, 24 hand-coloured lithographs and a folding engraved map (ca. 280:277 mm) of the Somali coast and tribes. Contemporary black leather binding with blindstamped borders and brass lock. Edges marbled.


Extensive journal, kept from 17 December 1859 (Aden) to 17 March 1860 (Berbera) by the trading agent Charles Westendarp, apparently a member of the Hamburg family of merchants but who settled in London in the mid-19th century and achieved success in the ivory trade. Contains a wealth of details on the commercial activities of European merchants between Arabia, Northern Africa and the west coast of India.

"Hopefully, this journey will prove the foundation of a good, sound business", writes the apparently young author of the diary on 18 December 1859, beginning his account in Aden, then ruled as a British protectorate, with an enumeration of the wares and specimens he intends to send home to London. Aiming for quick and substantial profits, he dreams of building his parents a house in Georgenthal and settle down and marry. While he is particularly interested in the guano trade, he recognizes coffee and tobacco as more lucrative, as well as dyes, rubbers, and ivory. Westendarp first sails for Bombay, but his principal destination is Berbera on the Somali coast with its enormous, six-month-long market, which the businessman wishes to visit with Jama, his local interpreter.

Jama's thoughts on the British occupation betray the cultural gulf between East and West: "The English have many good laws, but [...] to insist on marrying one woman only is quite wrong" (11 Feb. 1860, p. 113). Numerous episodes in the diary describe the native population: "A crowd of no fewer than 50, if not 100 little dark-brown Somali boys in their birthday dress, attended by a rear guard of girls in short skirts, followed us everywhere [...]" (12 Jan. 1860, p. 120).

The lithographs show mainly costumes of India. Several small pen-and-ink drawings by the author illustrate exotic observations, such as the imprints left on the ship's deck by the praying Muslims (p. 111). A few pencil inscriptions. Binding lightly rubbed and bumped; a few tiny wormholes to upper hinge.

Stock Code: BN#56281