Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2012 Issue

Africa from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books

Bestebreurtje54

Africa, from Bestebreurtje Rare Books.

Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books has issued a new collection, titled List 54: Africa. This is Africa primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries, and Africa as seen through the eyes of Europeans. There is a copy of Leo Africanus' work, but otherwise, the writers were Europeans, so their views are more likely those of outsiders than natives. That is not to say they did not spend much time in this continent across the Mediterranean, nor come to know it well, but one's view of a different land can't help but be shaped by the experiences brought to it. That said, we do get early looks at life in Africa, first discoveries of interior lands previously unknown to the outside world, and some tell us of the worst things Europeans (and others) brought to Africa – the slave trade. Fortunately, we also hear from some of those who fought to abolish that horrible practice. Now, we will take a look at some of these books related to Africa.

The most notable of 18th century British explorers to Africa would have to be James Bruce. The Nile was long one of the world's most famous geological features, and yet its source remained unknown to the outside world for millennia. In 1768, Bruce set out to answer this age old question. He did not travel up the Nile from its mouth, but believing the source to be in Ethiopia, attacked the journey from that angle. It took several years, but at last he reached the source. However, credit for discovering the source of the Nile now resides with Speke, almost a century later. Bruce found the source of the Blue Nile, but most now consider that a tributary, with the White Nile considered the main branch. Bruce recounted his adventures in his book Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile, in the Years 1768...1773. Item 39 is a first edition, though it was not published until 1790. Many challenged the accuracy of Bruce's claims (unfairly), leading him to delay for many years before putting his story to paper. Priced at €4,250 (euros, or approximately US $5,650).


William George Browne was an aspiring writer who was fascinated by the travels of James Bruce. Having access to a decent amount of money, he dropped his pen and went off to explore the regions Bruce had visited. He left England in 1792, setting out for Egypt. After a year there, he decided to go deeper into the continent, to Darfur, in today's Sudan. It was a tough place, as it is today. He spent three years there, primarily because he was not allowed to leave. Browne was the first Englishman to describe the place. From there he returned to Egypt and then traveled on to Syria. He returned home in 1798. Browne recounted his experiences in his book Travels in Africa, Egypt and Syria, from the years 1792 to 1798. He never lost the urge to travel, taking several more trips, the last resulting in his being killed by bandits in what is today Iran in 1813. Item 38 is a second and “best” edition, published in 1806. €1,250 (US $1,665).


Here is another travelogue into Egypt and surrounding areas, though an unintentional one: A series of adventures in the course of a voyage up the Red-Sea... Author Eyles Irwin was in the employ of the East India Company when he became embroiled in a controversy involving the British Governor of India. He set off for England to explain his position, but the ship he took was captured by pirates. He was taken to various places in Egypt before a sympathetic shiekh helped him obtain his freedom and make a 340-mile trek across the desert to safety. After 11 months of traveling, Irwin arrived in England, was restored to his position, and spent the remainder of his life both as an official for the East India Company, and as a poet and writer. Item 156. €950 (US $1,266).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <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. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

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