Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2004 Issue

Voyages And More From The Antiquariaat Forum

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Richard Hakluyt was an English geographer who determined to write down the history of world voyages, particularly those of Englishmen, at the dawn of the 17th century. After publishing a one-volume edition of his most famous work in 1589, he came back to greatly expand his writing a decade later. Item 21 is a copy of that three-volume second edition from 1599-1600 of The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation. It remains one of the most important books of voyages and discovery four centuries later. Item 21. EU26,900 (US $34,304).

We will close with a book by George Psalmanaazaar, An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, dated 1704. If you would like to know more about life on the island now better known as Taiwan three hundred years ago, don't read this book. It's a fraud. So was George Psalmanaazaar. Anytime you see someone with six "a's" in their last name, watch out. Psalmanaazaar passed himself off as a native convert to the Church of England, when in reality he was a Frenchman. His history and even geography of Formosa was made up. Speaking of this book, Boswell, in his "Life of Johnson," states, "So gross is the forgery that it almost passes belief that it was widely accepted as a true narrative." Among Psalmanaazaar's claims, Boswell points out, was that "he asserted also that in an island that is only about half as large as Ireland 18,000 boys were sacrificed every year." Boswell further notes that Protestant England was willing to accept Psalmanaazaar's lies because many of them were directed against the Catholic Jesuits. Late in life, Psalmanaazaar would finally admit to the fraud. Item 43. EU1,950 (US $2,483).

The Antiquariaat Forum may be found online at www.forumrarebooks.com, or reached by phone at 31 (0)30 6011955.

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