Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2017 Issue

Booking It in South America

74d5da18-2532-45a6-902d-814b95b83d15

Walrus Books of Buenos Aires.

Hola! We finally did it. We went around Cape Horn after reading about it and talking about it for years and it was a grand adventure. We are two old traditional sailors/booksellers, who are getting too infirm to haul on the halyards and take in sail anymore so we opted to wuss out and be spoiled rotten for two weeks on The Zaandam, a Holland America cruise ship. Though it carries about 1300 people, it never seemed very crowded except during life raft drills. The ship had great food, and too much of it, a couple of good bars, an excellent crew, mostly good entertainment (though some was a bit Las Vegasy, as was the decor), and a very small library with very eclectic, mostly hardcover books, primarily mystery and adventure novels. They also had a “take one and leave one” table with paperback fiction. I took two and left two and finished them by the time our two week sail was finished. It has been tough coming home and cleaning our own house, cooking our own meals, and doing our own laundry again, I can tell you that!

 

Before we got on the ship, we had to check out a few bookstores in Argentina. Of course! Buenos Aires was our port of departure and we discovered that Buenos Aires is also known as a “book town” like Sidney in Canada, Hey-on-Wye in England, or Grass Valley/Nevada City in California. Buenos Aires touts that it has “more bookstores per person than any other city in the world”. I don’t know about that, but they have a lot of them and we only got to a very few. Buenos Aires is huge. They have 2.8 million people and about 730 bookstores. To put that in perspective, Reno, Nevada has 223,000 people and three bookstores.

 

Most of them were little, out-of-the-way bookshops with dusty, musty shelves, and worn-looking books in Spanish, Portuguese, and German. Many of the books appeared to have been in the windows for many years without benefit of a feather duster. I don’t think that counts street vendors or even sellers at flea markets, of which there are many. They have a flea market every weekend that covers about 25 blocks in old town and they close all the streets for it. We went into a few and took pictures of some of their window displays, but didn’t linger because my Spanish is less than perfect and because of our limited knowledge of South American authors.

 

The reason there are so many bookstores, according to the Argentineans, is that “Argentina’s love affair with the book is related to the wave of mass immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A century ago, Buenos Aires was the shining capital of one of the wealthiest countries of the world. European immigrants poured into Buenos Aires, creating a multicultural environment in which culture and the arts thrived.”…The Guardian. The revolutions and dictatorships took a toll, but then if you know there is shooting in the streets, perhaps staying home with a good book is preferable!

 

Unlike Costa Rica, South America is not really big on speaking English and my Spanish is pretty much limited to getting around from place to place, ordering food, and finding hotels. We had a limited amount of exploration time before we sailed away so we concentrated on the old town area where we were staying, San Telmo, and visited about 20 bookstores, only two of which carried English language books.

 

The first was Walrus Books run by Geoffrey Hickman and Josefina Sanchez. They have new and used books and sell or trade books with the English speaking ex-pat community. Geoffrey is an ex-pat from Maryland, U.S. and Josefina is Argentinean. They have been in business about ten years and their small but mighty bookstore is packed with good literature, especially South American writers such as Allende, Borges, and Marquez. I had already finished two books by the time I got there, so I was searching for reading material. The store was relatively busy when we were there so we didn’t get much chance to chat with Geoffrey. I bought Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie to re-read and an Allende that I hadn’t read, The Japanese Lover. It was very good. I’ve loved most all her books but Island Beneath the Sea is still my current favorite. Her book Maya’s Notebook, which I recently read, took place in an island off Porto Montt at the end of Northern Patagonia, which we passed by on the ship.

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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions