Hordern House published a catalogue for the recent Pasadena Bookfair 2012. That was a long trip for the Australian bookseller, though not nearly as difficult a journey as many described in the books herein offered. Australia was always a far away land for the rest of the western world, so many of the books relating to that continent are travel accounts. In the days when distant travels equated to voyages in cramped, dangerous sailboats, these trips were always adventures. Not all of the travels described in these works were to Australia, and a few were overland (Marco Polo, John Mandeville), but nonetheless, Australia is a great place to look for accounts of voyages taken many years ago. Here are a few of the books that made the recent flight (not sail) to Pasadena, California.
We will start with a book that predates the great voyages, but it provided the first printed look, so to speak, at the world. It is the Etymologiae of St. Isidore of Seville. This is the first Italian edition of 1483. The first edition of 1472 offered the first printed map. It was a world map, such as there was at the time, and as primitive as they come. It contains a circle, representing the oceans. Inside the circle is a “T,” with Europe on one side, Africa, on the other, Asia at the top. The stem of the “T” is the Mediterranean Sea, the crossbar probably some combination of waterways such as the Nile. The book itself was an encyclopedia of knowledge from around the year 600, but was still highly regarded as a source of information at the time printing was invented. Item 29. Priced at $70,700.
It would be hard to imagine a more important set to a collection of voyages than the official accounts of the three voyages of Captain James Cook. Three times he left England for the Pacific waters, visiting Australia, the western coast of America, and numerous islands in between. It was Cook who determined there was no large continent surrounding the South Pole, long assumed to exist to balance the greater land masses in the northern hemisphere. Item 14 is a complete set of first editions, eight volumes and the folio atlas, from 1773-84. $76,500.
Here is a unique Cook-related item. It is the manuscript log book for the first journey of the ship Marquis Rockingham. It recounts her maiden voyage in 1771. That name may not sound familiar, but that is because after this first voyage, the ship was renamed. It was given the name Adventure, and was one of the two ships to participate in Cook's second voyage. This was the trip that determined there was no massive southern continent. Item 15. $42,200.