Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2005 Issue

Exhibit Recognizes Francis Drake, First Englishman to See California

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If his calculation was meant to be accurate, he probably stayed in one of a couple of bays a bit north of San Francisco. He left a plaque where he stopped, claiming the land for the Crown, and such a plaque was discovered in the San Francisco area in the 1930s. For years it was believed to be genuine, but updated testing in the 1970s proved it to be a fake (see the end of this article for more on this elaborate hoax). Among those who believe Drake faked his location, there is a place in Oregon frequently sited as Drake's bay, with possibilities as far north as Vancouver Island, Canada. The problem is that most of Drake's records were kept secret by Queen Elizabeth, who, as we noted, did not wish to antagonize the Spanish more than necessary. Those records were later lost or destroyed. We may never know for certain where Drake stayed, unless that elusive plaque truly is found one day.

Naturally, Drake did not find a northwest passage, and he had no desire to sail back along the west coast of South America where vengeful Spaniards might be waiting. Instead, Drake headed west, through Indonesia, around Africa and back home. In so doing, he became the first Englishman, and only the second navigator after Magellan, to circumnavigate the globe. He returned a hero, and though the details of his exploits were kept quiet, Queen Elizabeth knighted him. Drake would go on to serve as Mayor of Plymouth and as a Member of Parliament. However, as relations with Spain deteriorated, Drake would head back to sea to attack Spanish shipping. Then, in 1588, he led an expedition to the Spanish port of Cadiz. He would seriously damage the Spanish Armada, disrupting a planned invasion of England. Drake's legend was sealed.

Drake continued his activities into the 1590s, but his successes were now limited. The Spanish were better prepared for him. In 1596 Drake and his cousin John Hawkins would lead another venture to the Americas, but this one was a disaster. Neither would make it back alive. Drake contracted dysentery, would die, and be buried at sea. He was buried in a lead coffin, and there are regularly recurring plans to search for that coffin and someday bring Drake back home to England.

The collection of material pertaining to Drake now on exhibition by the Library of Congress is titled "The Kraus Collection of Sir Francis Drake." The collection was given to the Library by legendary bookseller H.P. Kraus and his wife, Hanni, in 1970. The late Hans Kraus had become fascinated with Drake and set about building a collection of contemporary items relating to his career. Here is the link to the Sir Francis Drake exhibition: http://international.loc.gov/intdl/drakehtml/.

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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