Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2016 Issue

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

3e11ddeb-426a-47fd-98c5-c3c3d4c6045b

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>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Keep Calm and Carry On</i>, designer unknown, 1939. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, <i>Le Journal / La Traite des Blanches</i>, 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>"Let Us Go Forward Together,"</i> designer unknown, 1940. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Babylone d'Allemagne</i>, 1894. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Frank Beatty, <i>Out of the Running</i>, 1929. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Wake Up America Day</i>, 1917. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Danté / Sim • Sala • Bim!</i>, designer unknown. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>[Zodiac]</i>, 1900. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Rick Griffin, <i>Jimi Hendrix Experience / John Mayall</i>, 1968. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Abram Games, <i>Join the ATS</i>, 1941. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Aldo Mazza, <i>Torino / Esposizione Internazionale</i>, 1911. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Robert Motherwell, <i>Julliard School / Dedication - Lincoln Center</i>, 1969. $3,000 to $4,000
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Booth & Williams: NO RESERVE Rare Book Auction, now through July 23, 7:15PM EDT</b>
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> John Muir. <i>My First Summer in the Sierra</i>, Boston, 1911.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Ernest Hemingway. <i>For Whom the Bell Tolls</i>, New York, 1940. First edition later printing.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Upton Sinclair. <i>The Jungle</i>, New York, 1906. First edition.
    <b>Booth & Williams: NO RESERVE Rare Book Auction, now through July 23, 7:15PM EDT</b>
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> George Orwell. <i>Nineteen Eighty-Four</i>, 1949. First American edition.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Harper Lee. <i>To Kill a Mocking Bird</i>, 1960. Early printing.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Richard Wright. <i>Native Son</i>, New York, 1940. First edition.
    <b>Booth & Williams: NO RESERVE Rare Book Auction, now through July 23, 7:15PM EDT</b>
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Dryden, Congreve, and others. <i>Ovid’s Art of Love</i>, London, 1764. English translation of Ovid’s work.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> S. E. Hinton. <i>The Outsiders</i>, New York, 1967. First edition.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> J. D. Salinger. <i>The Catcher in the Rye</i>, Boston, 1951. Book club edition.
    <b>Booth & Williams: NO RESERVE Rare Book Auction, now through July 23, 7:15PM EDT</b>
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Ayn Rand. <i>Atlas Shrugged</i>, New York, 1957. Early printing.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> J. D. Salinger. <i>Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters</i> and <i>Seymour: An Introduction</i>, Boston, 1963. First [book] edition, third state.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Tennessee Williams. <i>Sweet Bird of Youth</i>, 1959. First edition.
  • <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions