Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2012 Issue

Polar Books and Ephemera from Aquila Books


Books from the polar regions.

Aquila Books has released its first catalogue of 2012, Catalogue 112 or Winter 2012. It has been a couple of years since their last, so this will be a welcome sight for those who collect all places cold. Aquila's specialty is the polar regions, places few if any humans inhabit. In other words, most of these books are about travels and voyages, as people generally reach these places strictly to explore. The common thread that runs through the expeditions is hardship, climates so unpleasant it is a wonder anyone goes there. Still, they go. Fortunately, we can read about their adventures from the warmth and safety of our homes. It is much more pleasant this way.

We will start with a trilogy of books from Arctic and polar explorer Frederick Cook, one of the more interesting individuals to trek through the ice. Cook was a brave explorer whose claims came to be questioned, and eventually just plain disbelieved. The numbers just didn't add up. We first read about Cook in the Belgian expedition of the late 19th century. Cook wrote about it in Through the First Antarctic Night 1898-1899, published in 1900. Cook was the surgeon, and he was credited with saving many lives. One of his admirers from that journey, even through troubled later times, was Roald Amundsen, who would be the first to reach the South Pole a dozen years later. Item 28 is a first British edition of Cook's account. Priced at $1,500.

We next hear of Cook in two attempts to scale Mt. McKinley in Alaska. He traveled to the area in 1903 and 1906, and claimed to have reached the top on his second expedition. He published his claims in 1908 in his book To the Top of the Continent... The First Ascent of Mt. McKinley. Few questioned the veracity of his claims at the time. That would come after a protracted dispute with Robert Peary over who first reached the North Pole. Cook's questionable claim about reaching the pole would lead to a reexamination of his claim to reaching the top of McKinley. Suffice it to say that later examinations of his photographs and maps, and statements by others on his journey, have made the basic premise of this book questionable. Item 28. $675.

Cook's veracity would come into serious question as a result of the assertions found in his 1911 book, My Attainment of the Pole. Charts, timing, and testimony by the two Inuits who accompanied him led most people to believe that Cook's claim was mistaken if not fabricated. His assertion was challenged by Robert Peary, who also claimed to be first to reach the North Pole, though his asserted date was later than that of Cook. Peary's claims are generally accepted, Cook's not, though Peary's claim has also come under serious challenge in more recent years. Item 27 is a scarce first edition of Cook's account. $950.

If Peary's claim is true, then Matthew Henson was co-first man to reach the North Pole, as he accompanied Peary all the way to the end of the trail. However, Henson, unlike Peary, was given little credit for his achievement. Nor did Henson's account, published in 1912, sell many copies. The title explains Henson's problem: A Negro Explorer at the North Pole. In 1912, few people were willing to give a black man much credit for anything, so while Peary received much adulation, Henson received almost none. Nonetheless, Henson was the one man that Peary trusted enough to accompany him all the way to the North Pole (assuming, of course, he actually reached that destination). Item 48. $4,000.

Roald Amundsen had also thought of attempting to be first to the North Pole, but after Cook and Peary's claims, he concluded he was too late. He turned south, making his assault on the South Pole. The Norwegian explorer found himself in competition with British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, but Amundsen's better preparation, and head start, enabled him to reach the South Pole first. He was careful to avoid the controversy experienced by Cook and Peary by carefully charting his route, and leaving evidence at his destination. Amundsen's account is undisputed. While it was published shortly after his return in 1912, it was not until 2010 that the first edition of his diaries was published. Item 3 is The Roald Amundsen Diaries: The South Pole Expedition 1910-1912. Amundsen kept a daily diary of his voyage to Antarctica, setting up time, and overland trip to the pole and back, making this an exciting, as it happened account. $45.

Here is a rare item that will appeal to all those who like auto travel. It is a privately printed piece pertaining to the most challenging long road in North America, the Alaska Highway. The highway, over 1,500 miles in length, was built in a rush during the Second World War. The idea was to be able to provide supplies to Alaska, thought at some risk to the Japanese, though it is hard to imagine why they would have wanted Alaska. For those who wonder why it can take years to fix a street in your town, you may be amazed by the feat of the engineers and workers in constructing this long highway through difficult terrain and a long, brutal winter in just 18 months. Of course, this was not a modern superhighway. Most was unpaved until many years later. Still it provided a connection from where the roads previously ended in British Columbia, through the Yukon and into Alaska, where it connected to other previously existing roads. Item 2 is titled Lower Post or Freeze 340th Engineer Regiment on the Alaska Military Highway 1942-1943, published in 1944. It was printed in a small number of copies for the engineering regiment, no copies being offered for sale. It is marked with a sticker, “Warning to Receiving Party Due to Censorship restrictions, this book can not be sent out of the United States.” Someone ignored this warning as it is now being sold by a Canadian bookseller. $525.

Aquila Books may be reached at 403-282-5832 or Aquila@Aquilabooks.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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.
    <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>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.

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