Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2010 Issue

Alaska, the Arctic and California from the Argonaut Book Shop

Argonautfall2010

California and points north from the Argonaut Book Shop.


By Michael Stillman

The Argonaut Book Shop of San Francisco, California, has issued a catalogue of Recent Acquisitions, Alaska, Arctic, California. Autumn 2010. That may seem an odd combination - sunny, warm California, with the cold of Alaska and the even colder of the Arctic. Perhaps with global warming Alaska will be the new California? Of course, anyone who has ever tried to swim in California's ocean beaches is well aware of the Pacific current's connection between Alaska and California. Now these two large states and the vast ice-covered regions of the north are connected again in the pages of this catalogue, though this is not a limitation. These regions are the primary focus of the catalogue, but there is other material to be found here as well. Let's take a look inside.

This may not be the account of the first person to reach the North Pole, but it is that of the first person to claim he reached the North Pole: My Attainment of the Pole, by Frederick Cook, published in 1911. Cook had been organizing a hunting expedition in the far north when he decided conditions were favorable to make an assault on the Pole. Along with two Eskimos and 26 dogs, he made his journey to the North Pole, or so he claimed. The lack of proof he brought back led to serious questioning of his claims, compounded further by evidence he may have faked an earlier claim to be the first to reach the summit of Mt. McKinley, and an alleged oil rights scam in which he participated later on. Meanwhile, Robert Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole a short time later (his claim is also now challenged) and his supporters were quick to point out the flaws in Cook's claim. Whatever the truth is, and few now believe his polar claim, Cook performed heroically in the earlier Belgian Antarctic Expedition and retained the lifelong admiration of Roald Amundsen, who unquestionable was the first to reach the South Pole. Item 77. Priced at $500.

It was the most devastating earthquake and fire America ever experienced, The California Earthquake of April 18, 1906. Item 148 is the report of the state earthquake investigation, two volumes plus the atlas, published in 1908. The earthquake was terrible, but damage caused by the ensuing fires was worse yet. This is probably the most extensive report on the awful event that struck San Francisco in 1906. It contains nearly 150 photographs and 25 maps. $1,500.

Item 171 is an even more immediate report of the earthquake, The Call - Chronicle - Examiner newspaper of San Francisco dated April 19, 1906. The city's three newspapers put out a combined edition the following day, printed across the bay in Oakland. The top headline reads, "Earthquake and Fire: San Francisco in Ruins." Subheadings include "no hope left for safety of any buildings," "blow buildings up to check flames," and "whole city is ablaze." $450.

Other than searches for the Northwest Passage itself, the greatest number of Arctic searches must have been designed to locate the lost Franklin Northwest Passage expedition. Sir John Franklin had already undertaken several explorations when he set out to find the Passage in 1845. He never returned. Over the next 15 years, numerous search parties traveled to the Arctic Circle north of Canada in hopes of finding the explorers. When England began to give up hope, Franklin's wife outfitted several on her own. By 1860, enough had been learned from natives and a few artifacts to realize they had not survived. However, it was believed that records from the expedition could still be found, and in 1878, an expedition headed by Frederick Schwatka went to search for them. No such records were ever located, but Schwatka's party did find the remains of the last survivors of Franklin's party, who starved or succumbed to the cold before finding rescue. Item 106 is the account of Schwatka's Search, Sledging in the Arctic in Quest of the Franklin Records. This 1881 book was written by William Gilder, an adventurous newspaperman who was the mission's second in command. The mission achieved a record for the longest sledging journey ever, 3,251 miles. $375.

You would have needed great faith in the Confederacy to be the original purchaser of item 76. It is a $500 bond issued by "An Act of Congress" of the Confederate States of America. That was a lot of money in those days, and 6% was a healthy rate of interest, though not for a loan this risky. Issued in 1863, the bond was not due until 1893. A 30-year bond, but it became worthless just two years later. $300.

The Argonaut Book Shop may be reached at 415-474-9067 or ArgonautSF@PacBell.net. Their website is www.argonautbookshop.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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.
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    <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>

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