Travel From Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books has issued a catalogue of "Recent Travel Acquisitions." This catalogue includes 106 items recent only to Shapero Rare Books, as they range from one to four centuries old. Included is a large collection of travels to the Antarctic, plus many trips to Asia in centuries past.
Sir Richard Francis Burton was one of the greatest explorers of the 19th century. An Englishman, he is best remembered for his discoveries in Africa and the Near East. He was part of John Speke's expedition to discover the source of the Nile. He traveled to the forbidden cities of Mecca and Medina disguised as an Arab merchant. He was fluent in many languages and was a translator of works such as "Arabian Nights." So, it's a bit surprising to find him involved in "explorations" of America, but in 1860, looking for something different, Burton traveled to the American West. The result was the following book: The City of the Saints and across the Rocky Mountains to California. Published in London in 1861, it recounts his experiences with the Indians and Mormons. He was intrigued by polygamy, still in practice at the time, as he had seen polygamous societies in Africa. He notes that it is mostly found in societies where the fear for survival is greatest. As to the charge that it amounts to adultery, Burton wryly points out that at least the Mormons practice it openly; "how full is society of these latent Mormons!" Item 2. Priced at L1,250 (US $2,321).
One of the most unhappy journeys ever taken was the Robert Scott expedition to the South Pole in 1912. Scott and his four companions who made it to the Pole never made it back. The blizzards and extreme cold of "summer" blocked their return. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, a member of the expedition who helped locate Scott's body, wrote about his experiences in The Worst Journey in the World. Antarctic 1910-1913. However, Cherry-Gerrard's own personal worst journey was a side trip in the dead of winter to locate Emperor Penguin eggs, a journey by three men of which the author was the only survivor. In his introduction, Cherry-Garrard states, "Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised. It is the only form of adventure in which you put on your clothes at Michaelmas [September 29] and keep them on until Christmas, and, save for a layer of the natural grease of the body, find them as clean as though they were new." That's a good thing, because it's hard to do laundry in a place where temperatures dip to 70 below. Item 17. 1929 second edition. L1,500 (US $2,787).