A sliced section of a mango tree, mounted with a hallmarked silver plaque inscribed "Section of the Mango Tree under which Stanley met Livingstone in 1871, sent from Ujiji to General Higgins in 1931". 21 x 13cm. Condition is very good, the wood remaining structurally sound with a few old worm holes to the reverse and lower edge and some small areas of natural degradation in places.

"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" - a remarkable artefact from one of the most iconic moments in the history of exploration. In March 1871, Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904), the Welsh-American journalist, explorer, soldier, author and politician, arrived in Zanzibar on behalf of the New York Herald in order to begin his search for the celebrated Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone (1813-1873), who, during his quest to discover the source of the Nile, had, for six years, become entirely lost to the outside world. A contemporary icon of British colonialism, Livingstone was already widely famous for his extensive explorations of South and Central Africa, his attempts to spread Christianity alongside British imperial and commercial expansion, and his efforts to aid the suppression of the slave trade. The search for his whereabouts - as indicated by Stanley's sponsor - thus became global news. Faced with the loss of his supplies, many of his assistants, and, ultimately, his own health, Livingstone faced a gruelling few years, frequently forced to rely on the help of passing slave-traders and Arab merchants. Stanley, after his own, often equally challenging, 700-mile expedition through tropical forest, eventually found the beleaguered Livingstone under a mango tree in the town of Ujiji, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, on 10th November 1871. Stanley's famous greeting was notoriously restrained, with an undertone of dry humour; as he himself described: "[I] would have embraced him, but that I did not know how he would receive me; so I did what moral cowardice and false pride suggested was the best thing � walked deliberately to him, took off my hat, and said: 'Dr. Livingstone, I presume?'". To this, Livingstone replied "Yes", with a cordial smile, lifting his cap slightly, as he spoke his first words to a European in six years. The two men then grasped hands, with Stanley exclaiming: "I thank God, doctor, I have been permitted to see you". "I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you", Livingstone answered. Following their encounter, Stanley joined Livingstone in exploring the region, together discovering that there was in fact no connection between Lake Tanganyika and the Nile. Stanley went on to publish numerous works detailing their discoveries - as well as his own subsequent adventures - on the African continent, most notably 'How I Found Livingstone: travels, adventures, and discoveries in Central Africa' (1872), 'Through the Dark Continent' (1878), and 'In Darkest Africa' (1890). Regarding the mango tree under which the pair met, and the subsequent memorials surrounding it, Captain C. H. B. Grant, a later colonial administrator, has provided a useful account: "At Ujiji stood the mango tree under which Stanley met Livingstone on 10th November 1871; but it was not until the Belgians occupied Ujiji in 1916 that any action was taken to commemorate this historic spot. The Belgians erected a cement bench around the tree and inscribed on it the names of the explorers and the date of their meeting... When I took charge of Uriji in 1924 as Administrative Officer I moved to have a memorial erected to commemorate the meeting of these two explorers, with the final and most satisfactory result that in 1928-30 a memorial was erected on the instructions of the Tanganyika Government, for which a bronze plaque was presented by the Royal Geographical Society. The mango tree, which was fast dying, was cut down in 1930 and a section has been placed in the museum of the Society" (Grant, The Livingstone-Stanley Memorials in Africa, "The Geographical Journal", Vol. 79, No. 4, April 1932). Excepting this section in the Royal Geographical Society's collection, we cannot trace another example besides the present specimen, which was presented to Edward Higgins (1864-1947), then General of the Salvation Army, in 1931.

Stock code: 20204


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