Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2011 Issue

A Whale of a Book, A Whale of A Sale

Renjilian

John Renjilian and the first person whaling account 1833-6

Thirty-nine months at sea is a long time, and Percival expresses his homesickness more than once.  By December, 1835, he was counting the months: “we shall get home in the course of 12 months.”  There is a three-year break in the journal, and then Percival began an account of another voyage, again under Captain Pitman, this time on the ship Congress.
  

The Congress had its own connections to Melville’s great novel.  The book Herman Melville’s Whaling Years states that on April 1, 1841, a whale towed a boat from the Congress far out of sight.  After cruising in search of the boat for two days, Captain Pitman decided the boat had been sunk, and continued his voyage.  However, the boat managed to make a 1,500 mile voyage to the Marquesas Islands, where the crew were rescued some months later, shortly before Melville was at the Islands and undoubtedly heard the story.  The same book also locates Melville’s Acushnet and the Congress together with other ships at the Galapagos Islands in 1842, where they would certainly have spoken and perhaps visited with each other.

Percival inexplicably stopped writing in his journal, with his last daily entry made on January 28, 1840. We do know the fate of the second ship, however: as reported in the New York Times for October 4th, 1867, the Congress was frozen in the ice and crushed in the Anadir Sea on May 19th; her cargo of oil and whalebone was transferred to the bark Nautilus, and was apparently saved.

You can find this whaling journal as well as other books of interest in the Rare and Collectibles Room at the Booth Book Sale, such all six volumes of the signed collector’s limited edition of Astronaut Library by astronauts Lovell, Aldrin, Carpenter, Glenn, Borman,  Shepard, Schirra.  All Easton Press, each signed by the authors and with Certificates of Authenticity; and  Marlborough .His Life and Times. By Winston Churchill, NY: Scribner, 1933. Six volumes. Red half leather.  Additionally there attractively priced collectibles such as For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway, First edition; Primitive Physic: or, an Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases by John Wesley (1772) and an extensive collection of pristine Easton Press publications, some still in original cellophane wraps, many limited editions and autographed works donated by the estate of a private collector. There is also an extensive selection of very good condition adult and children’s books signed by author and/or illustrator:  Drawn from New England. Tasha Tudor by Bethany Tudor (New York: Collins, 1979), likely 1st edition, signed by Tasha Tudor and inscribed by Bethany Tudor, her daughter and David the Dreamer. His Book of Dreams by Ralph Bergengren, illustrated by Tom Freud (1922), first edition with illustrations by Sigmund Freud’s niece, Tom Freud, who used a male pseudonym, and was known for her eccentricities, and a wide selection of fine and very good condition comic books in protective sleeves.

The sale will be held July 9 through July 13, at the Reed Intermediate School, 3 Trades Lane, in Newtown, CT.  A $5.00 admission is charged on Saturday only, with other days being free; numbered admission tickets will be on sale beginning at 7.00 AM on Saturday.  Hours for the sale are 9.00-5.00 Saturday and Sunday, 9.00-7.00 Monday (half price day) and Tuesday ($5.00 per bag day), and 9.00-noon on Wednesday (free day).  Further information can be found at www.boothbooksale.org, by emailing boothbooksale@yahoo.com, or by calling 203-426-4533.

Proceeds go to the general library fund.

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