Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2016 Issue

A Gentleman's Collection of Travels from the Antiquariaat Forum and Asher Rare Books

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The library of a gentleman.

The Antiquariaat Forum and Asher Rare Books have published a catalogue of The Library of a Gentleman. The gentleman's name is not stated, nor are the specifics of his collecting. However, a perusal of the catalogue shows that he was primarily interested in travels, originating in the West and heading east, with Asia usually the destination. While some are of relatively recent vintage, such as the 19th to early 20th century, many others are earlier still. Many of the accounts came from missionaries, the Jesuits in particular, who visited and settled for long periods of time in nations that were practically unknown to Europeans at the time. Some of westerners' earliest looks at the eastern world will be found in these books. Here are some examples.

 

We will start with one of the earliest thorough descriptions of China, having been called "the most influential" description from the first half of the 17th century. Matteo Ricci was born in today's Italy, studied for the priesthood in Rome, joined the Jesuits and sailed from Lisbon to the Portuguese colony of Goa to serve as a missionary. After four years in Goa, he was sent to Macau, a Portuguese trading post and the only location in China where Christian missionaries were permitted. However, he studied the Chinese language and culture extensively, and this combined with astronomy and map making skills enabled him to move inland to Zhaoping. He was welcomed by the governor, but when a new viceroy came to power, he was expelled. He moved on to other cities, where he was again welcome. He spent time in Nanjing and eventually was invited to Beijing. He became an advisor to the Imperial Court and was the first westerner permitted to enter the Forbidden City. Ricci remained in Beijing until his death in 1610. Ricci kept extensive notes about China and his travels, but he did not prepare a book. However, the Jesuits recognized the value of the information he gathered, so they appointed his successor, Nicolas Trigaulot, to arrange, complete, and translate from notes in Portuguese to Latin Ricci's work. It was published in 1615 as De Christiana expeditione apud Sina suspecta ab societate jesu, by Ricci and Trigault. Item 153. Priced at €9,000 (euros, or approximately $10,271 U.S. dollars).

 

Next we have another intrepid traveler, though a very different sort. Isabella Bird was an unhealthy young woman, and one schooled only be her parents. Nonetheless, she had a sharp and incisive mind, becoming a voracious reader. At the age of 23, it was recommended to her that travel might be good for health, whereupon she set off from England to America. She returned home and wrote a book about America in 1856, but come the 1870's she was off again. She traveled to Australia, moved to Colorado for the healthy air, and in 1878, undertook an arduous journey to Japan, again because such exertion would somehow make her healthy. She was not content hitting the regular tourist spots. She traveled to places where no "European lady" had gone before. She became particularly familiar with the Ainu, an indigenous people of Japan. Item 13 is an 1880 second edition (same year as the first) of Ms. Bird's Unbeaten tracks in Japan: an account of travels in the interior, including visits to the aborigines of Yezo and the shrines of Nikko and Ise... €650 (US $741).

 

Someone had to open up Japan to all westerners and that role fell to American Commodore Matthew Perry. In 1852, Americans were excluded. President Millard Fillmore decided it was time the Japanese gave Americans equal access to Japan, and sent Perry and his fleet to convince them. Their argument was what is better known as "gunboat diplomacy." Perry arrived in 1853, left his written demands, and promised to return in 1854 for an answer. When he did, the Japanese recognized the wisdom of his "argument" and granted the Americans landing rights in Japan. Now, here is a really obscure item and amazing survival from Perry's visit. It is a program/invitation for a show the crew was putting on on-board May 29, 1854, while negotiations were taking place. It is not the kind of show you would want your sailors to put on today. It is headlined Ethiopian Concert, featuring the "Japanese Olio Minstrels," many in blackface, though there was also a few African-American participants. The program was printed on the ship, and is one of only two such programs known to have survived. Item 138. €27,500 (US $31,365).

 

Do you remember the play/film The King and I? It was based on a real story, and here is the book which described the real, as opposed to fictionalized, version of events: The English governess at the Siamese court being recollections of six years in the royal palace at Bangkok. Not quite as catchy a title. Anna Leonowens, who didn't look all that much like Deborah Kerr, was hired by the King, who didn't look much like Yul Brynner, to teach his wives and children English, science, and the like. After nearly six years, she had had enough, having personality conflicts with the King. She described her stay as "captivity." The King described her as difficult. Ms. Leonowens was something of a feminist, and the King probably was not. Item 99. €350 (US $399).

 

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

  • <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.
  • <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

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