Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2014 Issue

Military History from Asher Rare Books and the Antiquariaat Forum

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Military History.

Asher Rare Books and the Antiquariaat Forum have released a catalogue of Military History. The focus is on equipment and wars in Europe from centuries past. There is much to write about. With so many countries jammed into the limited space of Europe, it seems there was always at least one war going on, with various countries lining up on each side. It is a wonder anyone survived. While most people are familiar with the major conflagrations – the World Wars, or Napoleon's overrunning most of Europe, there were many more localized conflicts, and some seemed to last an eternity, such as the Eighty Years War. Modern warfare has made it too dangerous to carry on with all of the fighting. The consequences are too frightening. Still, war can pop up on occasion. It turns out the Crimean War was not the last battle for that spit of land. Here are a few military items from this latest joint catalogue.

 

Item 36 is a collection of views from that previous Crimean War, Der Kriegsschauplatz in der Krimm. This is a German edition (circa 1855) of William Simpson's views of the war. Simpson was sent to record the naval battles in the Baltic Sea but also went on land as well. His drawings were shown to Queen Victoria, who was Simpson's patron. They were originally published in an English edition. The Crimean War saw the British and French, along with the Turks, successfully beat back the Russians, a different outcome than the more recent edition of this war. Priced at €7,500 (euros, or approximately $9,687 in U.S. currency).

 

Item 20 is a group of historically important unpublished letters, until recently unknown. They pertain to the Siege of Vienna in 1683, when an alliance between the Hapsburgs' Holy Roman Empire and the Polish drove the Ottomans from Hungary. The four letters were written by Hieronymous Augustin Lubomirsky between July 25 and August 21, 1683. Lubomirsky was the commander of the Polish army, who would ride in to Vienna to save the day for the Hapsburg empire. The recipient was Imre Thokoly, the leader of the anti-Hapsburg Hungarian Calvinists. As such, Thokoly had formed an alliance with the Ottoman Turks, sort of an enemy of my enemy thing. In the letters, Lubomirsky attempts to reconcile Thokoly with the Hapsburgs, speaking on behalf of the Polish King, Jan III Sobiesky. It was previously unknown that the Poles attempted to reconcile Thokoly with the Hapsburgs. The attempt was unsuccessful, and Thokoly remained allied with the Turks, all to no avail. They were routed by the Hapsburg alliance once the Poles arrived. €38,000 (US $45,228).

 

Item 35 is a pair of two works in one volume, written by Frenchman Jean Savaron in 1610. The first is Traicté de l'espee Francoise. This is a discussion of the use of swords in France and of, as we Americans might say, the right to bear swords. It was dedicated to Louis XIII, who Savaron describes as “the sword of the world.” Louis was kind of a small sword in 1610, as though he had just ascended to the thrown, he was still only nine years old. The second item is Traicté contre les duels. It is an attack on the practice of dueling. There was a plague of people upholding their honor at the time. Some 8,000 noblemen had been killed in the past 20 years in this way and Savaron believed France could hardly afford to lose so many leaders. It also created a sense that the nobility was above the law, as killing each other, naturally enough, was not legal. Savaron explained that “few or no noble houses [were] exempted from this carnage.” €9,500 (US $12,270).

 

Item 24 is a spectacular manuscript with the binding title Abregé de la marine du Roy 1732. It is a description of the Royal French Navy in 1732, under the reign of King Louis XV. This was the Louis who preceded the deluge. The manuscript provides a detailed survey of the state of the navy, including data from Canada, Louisiana, and the West Indies. However, it is more than a book of data. It is an artistic masterpiece as well, with calligraphic writing in three colors, a painting of a warship taken into port for repair, and all on vellum with a beautiful contemporary binding. It was evidently produced for someone of great importance. €95,000 (US $122,669).

 

Instead of the French navy, this next item takes a look at the British army, but from a later time (circa 1890). This is Her Majesty's Army: a descriptive account of the various regiments now comprising the Queen's forces, from their first establishment to the present time. As Walter Richards' title suggests, this book contains a lot of detailed information about the forces serving Queen Victoria. It includes 44 plates depicting numerous military scenes. It comes in three volumes. €950 (US $1,226).

 

You may reach the Antiquariaat Forum at +31 (0)30 6011955 or info@forumrarebooks.com. Their website is www.forumrarebooks.com. Asher Rare Books may be reached at +31 (0)30 6011955 or info@asherbooks.com. Their website is www.asherbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

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