Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2013 Issue

Africa from Walkabout Books

Walkabout1

Africa.

This month we received the first catalogue from Walkabout Books of Xenia, Ohio. It is the first catalogue we have received from a bookseller in a town beginning with “X” (I have not looked this up, but assume it is true). Xenia is located near Dayton, which is located near Cincinnati. Walkabout Books describes itself as “an antiquarian bookstore specializing in the literature of travel and adventure, including travel narratives, exploration, mountaineering, and other outdoor pursuits.” In other words, they specialize in books filled with wonder and excitement, yet excitement that is real, not fiction. The firm is owned and operated by Elizabeth Svendsen, herself a traveler with a varied background, including eight years in the bookselling profession.

Catalogue One is entitled Africa, subheaded, Through the Eyes of Explorers, Missionaries, Ethnologists, Soldiers, Traders, Tourists, and other Adventurers, 1750-1950. As such it is more varied than the typical exploration catalogue that is focused on the professional explorers. Here we also get to meet the missionaries, people who came to “save” the Africans, and meant well, but often had a dim view of their culture or development. Probably the most common word in these books titles other then “Africa” is “savage.” Often, Europeans managed to ignore their own more refined forms of savagery. For example, there were the traders, who often traded in humans, the slave trade. There are the soldiers, who came to fight and conquer, and then the tourists. This latter group didn't live in such rough conditions. They rarely starved, were attacked, or sold into slavery. Their adventures may be far less dramatic, but it may also be easiest to relate to them. Their adventures are the ones we could experience. Let's take a look inside the catalogue to see what is hiding in the jungles of what was once, to outsiders, “Darkest Africa.”

Item 97 is Voyages to the Coast of Africa by Mess. Saugnier and Brisson... the 1792 first edition in English. Saugnier and Brisson were involved in separate shipwrecks off the coast of Africa in 1784 and 1785. Saugnier was captured by Arabs and enslaved. He was traded from owner to owner, but apparently was not terribly abused. Eventually, French and English merchants were able to free him. He returned to France where, you might think, he would have become an abolitionist. Not at all. He returned to Africa to be come a slave trader. The book includes information on conducting trade in Africa, particularly the slave trade. Priced at $900.

Item 56 is a story with a message, a controversial one at that: Liberia; or, Mr. Peyton's Experiments, published in 1853. Author Sarah Josepha Hale was an opponent of slavery, but her focus here is not on ending slavery, as was Uncle Tom's Cabin, released around the same time. The Mr. Payton of this tale is a slave owner who wishes to free his slaves. However, he is concerned for their welfare once they are free. You can tell this is going to be a work of fiction. He tries sending them as freemen to a farm in the South, an industrial town in the North, and to Canada. They are unhappy in all three locations, constantly harassed by whites. Peyton finally finds the solution. Following the advice of the American Colonization Society, he ships them to Africa, where they can finally be free of intimidation by whites. My guess is that Ms. Hale didn't find too many promoters for her proposal, from either slave owners or abolitionists. Sarah Hale was an influential writer, editor, and promoter of women's education. She was instrumental in convincing President Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving as a national holiday. And yet, what she is most remembered for today is a silly children's rhyme she wrote, Mary Had A Little Lamb. $300.

Item 88 is the work of an amateur explorer, a man who set out to Africa alone several times, self-financed: Savage Africa: being the narrative of a tour in equatorial, south-western, and north-western Africa; with notes on the habits of the gorilla; on the existence of unicorns and tailed men; on the slave trade... This all made sense until we got to the part about unicorns and tailed men. W. Winwood Reade first set off for Africa in 1861. His work has been described as “essentially the work of a dilettante,” but that is likely unfair. Reade traveled extensively in out of the way places, and later became a regular correspondent of Charles Darwin, whom he supplied with information on natural histories the latter used in developing his theories. Reade's thoughts on the futility of missionary work and the value of polygamy to Africa were defended by Richard Burton. He is noted for providing valuable information on the gorilla, not well known at the time. As for his comments on unicorns and tailed men, Reade simply recounts supposed eyewitness accounts of others, making no claims to having observed such creatures himself. He tends to believe in their existence based on numerous claimed sightings, though reaching no definitive conclusions. $150.

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

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions