Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2012 Issue

Travel in Jamaica: Buccaneers at the National Library in Downtown Kingston, in the Year 2012

Blome-richard

Richard Blome's Description of Jamaica.

PART II : Buccaneers’ Paradise.

BOOK 1: Richard Blome, A Description of the Island of Jamaica, With the Other Isles and Territories in America, to Which the English are Related (London, 1678).



The National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) shelters some old books linked to the history of the island. Last month, I described the copy of Thomas Gage’s travel that played a key role in the English capturing Jamaica in 1655. The first years of the island under English dominion were rough times. Despite Oliver Cromwell’s privileges granted to the new settlers (including the English nationality), few wanted to migrate to this remote and unknown island, said to be hostile and unhealthy. By 1670, Jamaica became an official possession of the restored Crown and the book A Description of the Island of Jamaica... by Richard Blome was used as a tool of propaganda to help populating the colony. It was, as the NLJ states, published “at the request of Charles II, King of England.” The staff of the library handed me a disappointing in-12 volume, rebound in modern clothe. The inside, though, is very bright and complete of all maps, except... the one of Jamaica which, Lord forgives, has been carefully removed. A note of the library sends the desperate reader to the “map collection” with a barbarous reference (727 Fa 1671). This map was deeply inspired by its historical predecessor of 1671, John Ogilby’s, “the prototype of most of the first maps of Jamaica” says the NLJ. Twenty-seven pages only are dedicated to Jamaica. The rest focuses on “the other Isles and Territories in America, to which the English are Related”. The “Island of Barbadoes” is here described. So are Virginia or New-York. The work is bound with The Present State of Algiers (1678).

The idea was to attract new settlers to the young colony – it’d better be a good book. Blome describes a paradise regained, with fertile soils, a rich and generous nature giving gorgeous fruits. A heavenly haven... Enhanced in such a way, the island could not fail to rapidly prosper. To be honest, it did. Thanks to her natural ressources, indeed – but also thanks to the “ressources” stolen by the buccanners from the Spaniards. In the 1670’s, the island became the turf of the most feared men of their time, the dreadful buccaneers, who almost ruined the Spanish empire in America while turning Port Royal into “the most wicked city on Earth”... and one of the richest.

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Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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