London: John Murray, 1842. "New Edition." 10th or later edition. Octavo (23cm). Two volumes in brown cloth, stamped in gilt on fronts and spines; plain endpapers; I: [i]-iv,,[v]-[x],-424pp; II: [x],-474pp; vol. I with frontispiece, map, 21 lithographic plates, and in-text wood engravings; vol. II with bifold frontispiece and 45 plates and wood engravings. With the bookplate of Welsh politician and mine owner William Lewis Hughes, 1st Baron Dinorben, in both volumes. A sound set, lightly rubbed with mild chips at head and tail, corners bumped, cloth to vol. 2 mildly faded, foxed throughout, but overall Very Good.
Stephens (1805-1852) and his traveling companion, illustrator Frederick Catherwood (1799-1854), explored 44 Mayan sites which were all but unknown in North America, and thus reintroduced the ancient Mayan civilization to the Western world. This work, the first of two that the pair published on the topic, "not only contained graphic accounts of the social and political condition of Central America but also the revelation of a new and rich field of archaeological research. It sold 12,000 copies in the first four months and went through twelve editions in the first year" (HOWGEGO II, S47).
This copy was apparently produced in the U.S. by Harper & Bros. as a bound volume (with their imprint on the spine), and issued in the U.K. by Murray with a cancel title page. Sabin notes that "[t]here were many reissues from the same plates, with only slight variations in the collations. London issues appeared in 1842 and 1843" (SABIN 91297). RICH 1841: 48. FIELD 1496.