Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2014 Issue

Travel and Voyages from Maggs Bros.

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Travel and Voyages.

Maggs Bros. Ltd., the venerable London bookseller, is offering a catalogue of Travel and Voyages. It is divided into sections by geographic area, with one exception. The first section is focused on slavery. Sadly, this terrible practice started with voyages, but not of discovery or recreation. They were the terrible journeys to the New World on the notorious slave ships. Many other of these early travels were difficult, sometimes terrible as well, but at least most started from good intentions. Here are a few of the travel related items in this Maggs catalogue of voyages.

 

We will start with one of the slavery items. By 1823, the tide was turning on slavery. Abolitionists were gaining influence in Britain, but in the colonies, treatment remained harsh, even brutal. In 1823, the slaves of Demerara (now part of Guyana) revolted. There was a certain amount of payback, such as putting masters in stocks as had been done to them, but very little outright violence. Nevertheless, the response of the slave owners, whose means of making money was threatened, was hard. Trials were held, with many slaves executed, others receiving harsh penalties. Rev. John Smith, sent to Demerara by the London Missionary Society, was sentenced to death for his sympathies toward the slaves. His sentence was later overturned, but he died in prison first. Item 4 is Report of the Trials of the Insurgent Negroes Before a General Court Martial Held at Georgetown, Demerara on 25th August 1823... Published in 1824, it is an account of the uprising and the trials of many participants. The treatment of the slaves and the death of Smith fueled anger by abolitionists in England, and within a decade, slavery was outlawed in the British colonies. Item 4. Priced at £3,000 (British pounds, or roughly $4,975 in U.S. currency).

 

Item 11 is a collection of letters, once used to line a chest, from George Ross of Antigua, dated 1788-89, which show some of the ugliness of slavery. The letters describe slave sales, as well as other matters on Ross' mind. However, the most personal relate to some attacks Ross makes on his assistant. Ross accuses him of stealing, from Ross, another man, and even his own aunt. The crimes, he says, “...would have brought you to an ignominious Death had it happened in any part of either England, Ireland or Scotland.” He goes on to accuse his assistant of improprieties with black women, likely slaves. After Ross' family had gone to bed, he writes, “...you then – (shocking to relate) made use of my young Negro Girl, Jane, in a manner too shameful to comment to Paper!” Ross says this claim was corroborated by another lady, Ritta (supposedly herself a favorite of the assistant), in whose presence you spoilt the other! What a shameful action was this! They moreover complain that at all opportunities (which chiefly offer early in the mornings or near bedtime) you are continually feeling their Nudities...” Welcome to the realities of slavery. £4,750 (US $7,877).

 

Captain James Cook led three major British voyages. This one was neither the first nor the last, but the middle one may have been the most important. The title of Cook's official account is A Voyage towards the South Pole, and Round the World, published in 1777. Cook visited New Zealand, and discovered or rediscovered a whole host of Pacific Islands on this trip, including Tahiti, Easter Island, the Marquesas, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, and the Society Islands. It was during this trip that he turned south, father south than anyone had ever gone before, and realized that the widely held belief that there existed a massive southern continent was just a myth. It was also on this trip that Cook determined that providing the right diet could prevent what had long been the scourge of sailors – scurvy. This copy contains the plates from Cook's second voyage in a separate atlas, rather than interspersed within the text volumes. As the plates were somewhat larger than the text pages, they have avoided the usual trimming in most copies by being placed in a separate binding. Item 77. £15,000 (US $24,870).

 

Here is another travel report, though it is notable for less obvious reasons: The Malay Archipelago: The land of the Orang-Utan, and the Bird of Paradise. A Narrative of Travel, with Studies of Man and Nature. The author was Alfred Russell Wallace, and he began his journey around the archipelago in 1854. The islands are divided by distance into two main sections, and Wallace noticed differences and similarities between creatures on the two sides of the divide. The explanation at which he arrived for these differences was evolution, and its means of operation, he concluded, was natural selection. This would not be an earth-shattering conclusion today, but this was before Charles Darwin had published a word about his theory. Darwin had already reached a similar conclusion from his studies in South America, but realizing this would be extremely controversial, decided to keep quiet. However, when Wallace sent Darwin a letter explaining his theory, Darwin realized he could stay quiet no longer. Darwin and Russell published a joint paper explaining their theory, which appeared the year before Darwin published On the Origin of Species. Wallace was an admirer of Darwin, and was untroubled letting him take the lead and most of the credit for what they had independently concluded. Wallace's book on the Malay Archipelago, which led to his evolutionary beliefs, was published in 1869, a decade after his most important discovery was announced. Item 67. £4,000 (US $6,633).

 

Item 141 is a copy of The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Naturally enough, this is not in itself a rare book, but the inscription is what makes the copy interesting. It is inscribed to “Captain Scott, RN on his leaving New Zealand Terra Nova Antarctic Expedition Nov. 1910 – with every wish from A. R. Falconer Sailor's Missionary, Dunedin.” Scott was not a registered nurse. The “RN” pertains to his role with the Royal Navy. Robert Falcon Scott stopped in New Zealand for supplies on his way to a scientific exploring expedition of the Antarctic, one which he hoped would lead to his being the first to reach the South Pole. Unfortunately, Scott needed more than a bible to answer his prayers. He needed better timing. The following winter, he and a few men set out for the Pole, and succeeded in reaching it, only to discover that Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten them there by a month. Meanwhile, the weather turned terrible, and they were not as well adapted to polar travel as Amundsen's crew. Scott and those who traveled to the pole with him froze on the return journey. £7,250 (US $12,021).

 

Maggs Bros. Ltd. may be reached at +44 (0)20 7493 7160 or travel@maggs.com. Their website is www.maggs.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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.

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