Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2010 Issue

Nautical Works from the Columbia Trading Company

Columbia149

Books from the seas from Columbia Trading.


By Michael Stillman

The Columbia Trading Company has issued Catalog 149 of Nautical Books and Artifacts. Located on Cape Cod, at the heart of America's seafaring travel since the Pilgrims dropped by on their way to Plymouth, Columbia Trading offers up 652 items related to travel by ships, primarily on the open seas. This is affordable material, very few pieces priced beyond two digits, some appropriate for a nautical collection, others suitable for reading and learning. So let's open the pages, port to starboard, and take a look at a few items inside.

It took 150 years for this journal to make it to print, but when it did, it allowed the world's greatest military power to look back at a time when its European counterparts controlled the seas. Item 33 is Journals of Two Cruises aboard the American Privateer "Yankee" in the War of 1812, published in 1967. The United States had practically no navy when British outrages on the high seas, notably the impressment of American sailors, led the two nations to war. The British controlled the seas, and America was virtually helpless to defend itself from ocean-based attacks. President Madison turned to America's merchant and other ships for help. Private ships were authorized to engage in "privateering," a polite word for legalized piracy. These privateers were able to harass British shipping in a manner similar to the way the Royal Navy was able to disrupt American shipping. This journal of life on board the "Yankee," sailing out of Bristol, Rhode Island, gives an inside view of life on a privateering ship during America's first war. The author is "A Wanderer," generally believed to be Noah Johnson. Priced at $25.

Speaking of Noah, the Noah with no last name must have been the first sailor. Item 276 is David Fasold's 1988 book The Ark of Noah. Fasold studied a site in Turkey he believed contained fossilized remains of the Arc. His claim was controversial even among believers as it was not located on Mount Ararat. He makes his case in this book. In time, Fasold became dubious of his earlier beliefs, repudiating those claims, though others continued to support the theory. $40.

Noah's journey is not alone among alleged travels that stir debate between those who believe versus those who consider it legend. Pre-Columbian visits to America are also a subject of much debate between believers and nonbelievers. Item 135 is The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation, by Skelton, Marston and Painter, published by the Yale University Press in 1965. The Vinland Map and accompanying text purport to be a circa 1440 document which shows Viking visits to North America in the 11th century, long before Columbus. The map shows the edge of a landmass west of Greenland, which could only be North America. The map first surfaced in 1957, its provenance hidden. It was purchased for Yale University, which promoted this study published in 1965. The claim drew plenty of suspicions. Questions were raised about such items as language and depictions of other lands, which many believed reflected much later usage and understanding. Others questioned the age based on scientific studies of the ink and parchment. Nonetheless, if it is a forgery, it is a very good one. Many believe it authentic, and Yale regards it as a still unresolved debate. It should also be noted that there is other evidence that may point to pre-Columbian Viking visits to North America, meaning that claim will still be debated regardless of whether this map is real or fake. $20.

The skepticism concerning the map led to a conference the following year, where contrary viewpoints were enunciated. Item 187 is a report from that conference, Proceedings of the Vinland Map Conference, which was not published until five years later in 1971. Item 186. $20.

As long as we are running the border between fact and legend, here is another fascinating title: Legendary Islands of the Atlantic: A Study in Medieval Geography, by William H. Babcock. Published by the American Geographical Society in 1922, this work describes the various real and phantom islands believed to lie in the Atlantic during the early era of discovery. Naturally, Atlantis takes a primary role, but there were many others, such as the mythical St. Brendan's Island, which early maps displayed in the far northern Atlantic waters. Item 43. $25.

Item 258 is the anonymously written General Information on Grain Loading, published by the National Cargo Bureau in 1962. It covers such things as U.S. Coast Guard regulations for bulk grain cargoes. This is thrown in just in case we have led you to believe that every nautical work is filled with excitement and intrigue. $15.

Does this work belong in this catalogue: Hindenberg. An Illustrated History, by Rick Archbold, published in 1994? Wasn't the "Hindenberg" a dirigible, flying through the air, rather than floating on the water? Well, technically, these hydrogen (dangerous) and helium filled oversized balloons were airships, that is air + SHIPS. I guess that sort of qualifies. The "Hindenberg," of course, was the giant ship that crashed and burned in New Jersey in 1937. Item 340. $35.

The Columbia Trading Company may be reached at 508-362-1500 or info@columbiatrading.com. Their website is found at www.columbiatrading.com

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.

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