Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2011 Issue

Not From the Fair from the Ten Pound Island Book Company

Tenpound200

Not for a fair.

The Ten Pound Island Book Company has issued an unusual book list. We have seen lots of listings prepared specifically for a book fair. This one is prepared not for a fair. Ten Pound Island did not exhibit at the recent New York Fair, but decided to prepare the type of list they would have had they attended. So here it is. It is filled with nautical works, as is their specialty, with a concentration on antiquarian works. This makes sense, as it was an antiquarian book fair they did not attend. Here are some selections from their Maritime List 200.

 

Item 14 is an account of an early voyage to the Pacific Rim, including Hawaii. You can always tell an early Hawaiian visit if it is referred to as the "Sandwich Islands." Archibald Campbell was a young man of limited means when he signed on as an apprentice to go to sea. He made several voyages from 1800-1806, returning to Portsmouth in that latter year. It was then that he began a six-year journey covered in this book. According to a contemporary account in Gentleman's Magazine, Campbell returned home in 1812, his hands and feet badly frostbitten. Doctors were able to save all but two fingers from his hands, but his feet had to be amputated. He was reduced to being an organ grinder on the streets of Edinburgh. However, Campbell battled back, learned to play violin, and played on steamships for steerage passengers. It was there that an editor took notice of him, was intrigued by his stories, and eventually led him to publishing this book - A Voyage Round the World, from 1806 to 1812; in which Japan, Kamschatka, the Aleutian Islands, and the Sandwich Islands were Visited… Campbell particularly focused on Hawaii as he believed their location midway between America and Asia, and their favorable climate, would make them the most important Pacific islands. He describes the islands and their people in detail. Offered is the American edition, dated 1817. Priced at $200.

 

It was one of the most significant steamship tragedies in American history, though it is little remembered today. It took the life of the Secretary of State and Secretary of the Navy. The USS Princeton was a modern ship when launched in 1843, possessing two very long guns, one named the "Peacemaker." A cruise down the Potomac was held for many of the nation's most notable dignitaries to honor the new ship. Among those on board was President John Tyler and 77-year-old former First Lady Dolley Madison. It was decided to fire off one the big guns to demonstrate its power to the visitors. Instead of firing, the Peacemaker exploded. Six people were killed, including Secretary of State Abel Upshur and Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer. Also killed in the accident was David Gardner, father of President Tyler's fiancée. His Accidency himself avoided becoming the second straight President to die in office when he was waylaid by another guest on his way to the deck. In the 19th century, poetry was more commonly used to recount tragic events. Item 21 is George Ellis' A Poem on the Awful Catastrophe on Board the U.S. Steam Frigate Princeton, published in 1844. $200.

Rare Book Monthly

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