Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2015 Issue

Curiosity & Discovery from Hordern House


Curiosity & Discovery from Hordern House.

Hordern House has released a catalogue of Curiosity & Discovery. The Australian bookseller has taken this name from the description used for exploration during the Enlightenment. They have broken down the eras of travel and exploration to the Age of Discovery and the Enlightenment. The dates of these are rough approximations, and the periods overlap, but the Age of Discovery runs from the time of Columbus through the 17th century. The Enlightenment carries on from the beginning of the 18th century until the middle of the 19th.


The Age of Discovery was more focused on travels to the west and north. This was the period of discovery of the New World, now known as America. During the Enlightenment, exploration was more east and south. It brought Europeans to East Asia, the Pacific Islands, and, of course, Australia. It also brought explorers to the far south, and once and for all busted the myth that there was a gigantic southern continent, far bigger than Antarctica. This also was the period of discovery along the west coast of North America, which fit in more with Pacific than New World exploration. Here are a few samples of the 181 items related to the explorations primarily from the 18th and first half of the 19th century.


We will begin with an item related to the most famous of all Pacific explorers, Captain James Cook. However, we will skip past the official accounts of his three voyages and the various unofficial accounts by crewmen that were rushed out to beat Cook's report. Instead, we will focus on one known for its visuals: Views of the South Seas, from drawings by the late James Webber, draftsman on board the Resolution... Rather than a rushed publication, this was the last of the great Cook publications. Hordern House describes it as “the most beautiful English colour-plate book of the Pacific, the only colour-plate book relating to Cook's voyages...” Webber was a draftsman on the last of Cook's three voyages. The book is dated 1808, which is almost three decades later than the end of the journey on which Cook lost his life. Webber had created the images about a decade after the voyage, but he had died before the book was published, explaining why he is listed as “James” Webber when his name was John. However, the watermarks on the plates indicate the plates were printed (as needed) a decade later, which is often the case with this book, though the text pages were all printed together. The work contains 16 beautiful, hand-colored plates and 15 pages of text. Item 65. Priced at AU $78,500 (Australian dollars, or roughly $61,950 in U.S. dollars).


Here is the most important Cook work not specifically about his voyages. The title is A Discourse upon some late improvements of the Means of Preserving the Health of Mariners. The talk was given at the Royal Society in 1776, and though Cook prepared the information, it was presented by Sir John Pringle. Pringle was the society's president, and Cook asked him to give the presentation as he was off on his third expedition by the time of the meeting. Cook had discovered that the scourge of long-distance seafarers, scurvy, could be prevented through diet, notably malt juice and pickled cabbage. What was missing from the sailors' diet was vitamin C, but certain foods, including fruits such as limes, will prevent the dangerous illness from arising. Item 67. AU $44,500 (US $35,133).


What Cook was to England, Jean Francois de la Perouse was to France. Indeed, la Perouse followed in Cook's footsteps and was a great admirer of his predecessor. In 1785, he set out on his great voyage. The trip took him to South and North America. He went as far north as Alaska, but also visited San Francisco and California, the first notable visit by a non-Spanish explorer since Drake. He went on to hit many Asian lands, including Russia, China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. In 1788, he pulled into Botany Bay in Australia. While the French and British rarely got along, when they were far removed from their homelands, the visits were friendly. The British even cooperated in sending his reports back to his homeland, which would prove essential for this next book. The visit over, la Perouse sailed east and was never heard from again. It was a great mystery, and despite several search attempts, his ships could not be found. It was not until four decades later that wreckage, and reports from the natives on the isolated island of Vanikoro in today's Vanuatu, revealed their tragic fate. The reports he sent back were compiled in this four volume set published in 1797: Voyage de la Pérouse autour du Monde... Item 123. AU $38,000 (US $30,017).


We now know what happened to la Perouse, but in the 40 years his fate was unknown, many speculated about what happened. There were even plays and books, some not exactly serious theories. Here is one such account, by the playwright August von Kotzebue: La Perouse. A Drama, in Two Acts, published in 1799. In this play, la Perouse is found on an isolated island eight years later, with a lovely young lady who had become his wife. This is a complication as la Perouse already had a wife. Somehow, after some distress, the three get together and live as brothers and sisters. Oddly, one of von Kotzebue's sons, Otto, would go on to be a notable explorer himself, a German who sailed for Russia, achieving three circumnavigations on behalf of his adopted country. Item 127. AU $2,200. (US $1,739).


The most famous mutiny at sea was that on the Bounty, captained by Capt. William Bligh. A part of Bligh's crew decided life in Tahiti was better than on board a cramped ship and forced the Captain and those loyal to him off on a small boat. Bligh then guided his small boat thousands of miles to eventual rescue. Not as well remembered is what Bligh's rather pedestrian mission was in the first place. It was to transport some breadfruit trees from the Pacific to the Caribbean, the fruit to be employed in feeding the slaves. Bligh was persistent, and a few years later reprised his original mission, this time to better results. When he returned to England, his friend, George Keate, published this poetic tribute to the Captain: To Captain Bligh, on his Return to England in 1793, after having in so successful a manner executed the Commission intrusted in his Care... However, the slaves did not like breadfruit and refused to eat it, defeating the mission's purpose. This four-page tribute is a great rarity. Item 19. AU $75,000 (US $59,321).


Gerald Fitzgerald published this work considering an issue that rarely occurred to most western visitors of far off lands: The Injured Islanders; or, The Influence of Art upon the Happiness of Nature. Published in 1779, Fitzgerald's poem considers the damage westerners had inflicted on the residents of far off islands. He discusses both the issue of diseases the Europeans brought with them and the effects of cultural change, where the islanders find they can no longer enjoy their simpler lifestyle after, so to speak, seeing the city. Item 94. $12,250.


Hordern House may be reached at +61 (02) 9356 4411 or rare@hordern.com. Their website is found at www.hordern.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <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. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
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    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000

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