Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2013 Issue

Japan Is the Subject for Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books

Bestebreurtjel62

Japan.

Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books has issued a new catalogue with the simple title, Japan. It covers works relating to the earliest European visits to Japan through 20th century expositions and other endeavors that connected East and West. The catalogue is divided into two parts. The first, on which we will focus, contains the older and most highly collectible material. The second part contains more recent material pertaining, mostly, to earlier times. Here, now, are some of these items.

We will start with a book by the first European known to have visited Japan. Much of what Fernao Mendes Pinto wrote must be taken with a grain of salt, or perhaps a whole block of it. His adventures at times are so fantastic as to be unbelievable, quite literally. Indeed, his work earned Pinto the royal title “Prince of Lies.” Nonetheless, he tells us about some of the customs and the like of places he visited, and for many, this was the first western account of these places. Mendez, a Portuguese sailor, headed east in 1537. His first stop was India, but he also visited Indonesia, China, and Japan. His adventures in China are among the most unbelievable. He claimed to have been taken prisoner and forced to help build the Great Wall. However, he was then supposedly freed by invading Tartars, reaching a pirate ship that agreed to take him away. However, the pirate ship sank off of Japan, leading him to be the first westerner to reach their shores. Pinto claimed to have been the person to introduce the gun to the Japanese. Eventually, he made his way home and wrote his book in manuscript. It lay idle until finally published 30 years after his death. Item 28 is the 1652 first Dutch edition of Pinto's tale, Wonderlyke reizen van Fernando Mendez Pinto... Priced at €650 (euros, or about US $848).

From the first European to visit Japan we turn to the first English visitor. Will Adams was a remarkable individual. In 1598, he signed on to one of five vessels being sent to South America and Asia by Dutch merchants for the purpose of trade. It was a disastrous mission. Between bad weather and other navigational issues, only two ships made it through the Straits of Magellan. Those who made it suffered numerous other deprivations, including some being slaughtered by natives, others by Portuguese, one of the two remaining ships sinking with all on board lost, and finally Adams' ship, its crew near starvation, barely limping across the ocean to arrive in Japan. Hostile Portuguese missionaries quickly told Japanese authorities the men were pirates and called for their execution. Adams convinced the Japanese otherwise. He would become close to the Shogun, developing a relationship of mutual trust and respect. He taught them how to build western style ships. He was granted the right to trade, and opened relations with other countries, including England. Though others on the crew were allowed to leave, Adams was evidently too valuable and for many years was required to stay. However, once allowed to leave, he chose to remain in Japan. He sent money home to his family in England, but formed a new one in Japan, where he remained until he died in 1620. Item 9 is Will Adams. The first Englishman in Japan, by William Dalton, circa 1870. €225 (US $293).

Item 27 is a Narrative of the Earl of Elgin's mission to China and Japan in the years 1857, '58, 59. It was written by Laurence Oliphant and published in 1860. Elgin served as a British diplomat in places as far flung as Canada, India, and China. Relations with China were tense, the two sides frequently at battle with each other. However, Oliphant reported that they were surprised with the warmth with which they were received in Japan. The nation had only recently been forced to open its doors to trade by Commodore Perry's American mission, but rather than further hostility to the West, Elgin's mission was well received and the men were allowed to travel freely through Japan. Oliphant was Elgin's private secretary, an MP, a later a novelist. €375 (US $489).

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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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