Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2014 Issue

World Travel and Voyages from the William Reese Company

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World Travel & Voyages.

The William Reese Company has published their 313th catalogue, World Travel & Voyages. They range from 16th century expeditions by some of the earliest explorers, to Nixon's visit to China in 1972. Along with the more famous travels we have many 19th century accounts, often manuscript diaries and books kept by sailors out to see the world. Those were no cruise ships they sailed, conditions being unpleasant to tragic. It is easier to be an armchair sailor looking back centuries in time. Here are some travel books and manuscripts offered by the William Reese Company.

 

We start with one of the great voyages, the second circumnavigation, after that of Magellan. It was commanded by the English captain, later vice-admiral and knight, Francis Drake. His exploits made him a hero in his native land, but his acts of piracy made him an outlaw to the Spanish. Drake headed east to steal from Spanish shipping with six ships in 1577. By the time he rounded the Strait of Magellan, he had only one left. It was enough. He intercepted a couple of Spanish ships laden with riches along the west coast of South America. He proceeded north, looking for more, but instead found what we now call “California.” He named it “New Albion,” or New Britain. Drake's claiming it for England would be a source of that nation's claim on the American west coast as late as the 19th century. Drake stopped to rest in a bay. No one knows for sure where that was. The most widely held belief today is that it is a bay about 30 miles north of San Francisco. Drake then proceeded west, completing the circumnavigation and returning home in 1580. Queen Elizabeth did not want the Spanish to know exactly where Drake had been, nor to appear supportive of his piracy. The result was details of Drake's journey were kept private. An account was finally published in 1628, and item 51 is a copy of the first edition of The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake... Drake was long gone by then, but the account was compiled mainly from notes by Francis Fletcher, who was the chaplain on the journey. This copy includes the portrait of Drake and the very rare map. $225,000.

 

Many ancient voyages were unpleasant, but few can match this one for horror. It became the inspiration for Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Item 24 is a Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex... by Owen Chase, published in 1821. He was one of the few survivors. In a turn about, perhaps fair play, the Essex was struck by an angry whale, rather than the other way around. It sank, the 21 survivors cramming onto three small boats. The nearest islands were 1,200 miles to the West, but the crew feared they were inhabited by cannibals. They went east instead. They were temporarily saved when they discovered uninhabited Henderson Island. They did not realize Pitcairn Island, home to the Bounty mutineers, was only 100 miles away. Food and water soon became scarce on Henderson, so 18 of the 21 survivors took to the boats again. They set out on a journey of thousands of miles on small boats meant only for short distances, little food or water with them. The three boats separated, one lost forever, while on the other two, the men began dying. The survivors were forced to eat their dead, and in one case, drew lots to determine who would be sacrificed when no one died quickly enough. Eventually, eight were rescued, all near death, including the three who stayed on Henderson Island. $13,500.

 

Here is an account from a man who did get to ride on a modern ocean liner instead of a primitive sailing ship, yet still suffered a harrowing, life-threatening experience. Allan Beattie was a passenger on the Lusitania when it went down in 1915. The Lusitania was nearing England during the middle of the First World War when she was struck by torpedoes from a German U-boat. Within a matter of minutes, she sank to the bottom. This violation of civilian shipping would be one of the reasons for the U.S. entering the war on the side of England and against Germany in 1917. Once Beattie got to land, he wrote this 12-page letter. When the first torpedo hit, he wrote, “I got an awful smash in the back from the water and was thrown about thirty feet on my face.” He found his mother, rushed below to get his life jacket, and found her again. She said she did not believe there was much danger, to which Beattie replied that it looked as bad as it could get. He strapped the jacket to his mother and kissed her. He never saw her again. Just as he finished adjusting the straps, the boat went down. “I was sent sliding the whole width of the deck.” He was thrown into the ocean, luckily rescued quickly by a lifeboat. “Mother is gone, and altho we have not heard of her I don't think that she can be alive.” Almost 1,200 people died, with about 760 surviving. Item 97. $15,000.

 

Next we have another account from a seaman, a man who signed on with the U.S. Navy from 1843-1845. Item 11 is his manuscript, with the title Private Journal of W. M. Beers. He boarded the Macedonian in Philadelphia on a mission to Liberia, the Cape Verde Islands, and the west coast of Africa. Its job was to attack pirates and interdict the slave trade. Beers was shocked by some of the behavior on board. In Philadelphia, people observed the Sabbath, but on board the ship, the sailors were forced to perform tasks that could well have waited for another day. In a letter he sent to a friend (Beers has transcribed the letters he sent in his journal), Beers writes, “I cannot describe to you the feelings that I experienced the first day,” before proceeding to describe them. “I was shocked...to hear such blasphemy and curses which accompanied almost every sentence and I feel these things much more keenly as I had but just emerged from the society of those who had [thought] for the welfare of their eternal souls...” These sailors behaved like... sailors. $900.

 

Item 34 is the rather bland sounding A Discourse Upon Some Late Improvements of the Means for Preserving the Health of Mariners. It was delivered to the Royal Society in 1776 by a man not well-remembered, John Pringle. The speech was of enormous importance to travel and exploration. Pringle was reading a report created by Captain James Cook, who couldn't read it himself as he was off on his third voyage. In it, Cook explains the steps needed to prevent scurvy, the scourge of early sea travel that was more threatening to missions than storms or pirates. Cook discovered that pickled cabbage and malt juice, along with cleanliness, were the solution to this terrible problem. This item is bound with five other Discourses from Pringle between 1774 and 1778. $48,500.

 

The William Reese Company may be reached at 203-789-8081 or amorder@reeseco.com. Their website is www.reeseco.com

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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