Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2005 Issue

Travel, History, and Early Geologic Books from Schoyer's Books

Soldiers

Pictures from a soldier's scrapbook on his way to the Philippines.


George Francis Train was a larger-than-life figure of 19th century America, an eccentric tycoon who succeeded at most everything he did. An orphan at age 4, by the time he was 20, he was enormously successful managing his uncle's shipping business. Breaking out on his own, he became wealthy operating shipping from Australia. At one point Australian miners, seeking independence from Great Britain, asked him to become their first president once the revolution succeeded. Train declined. However, his popularity made him a sought after figure by various revolutionary movements, though he was something of a pacifist. While he made his fortune in ocean shipping, Train would go on to establish early streetcar systems in England, and railroads in America, including involvement in the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. He became a public speaker, and was much sought out on the speaking circuit. He toured Kansas in 1868 with Susan B. Anthony, supporting women's suffrage. He befriended Brigham Young and spoke glowingly of the Mormons, a group despised by most of the population at the time. However, he was not a proponent of Black suffrage, favoring "intelligent" suffrage, which at the time was code for granting voting rights to women first, then, maybe, Blacks. It was a position held by Ms. Anthony as well. He toyed with a presidential run in the 1870s, but did not have sufficient support. However, item 105 is about none of these. It is called Round the World with Train, by S.W. Wall. The adventurous Mr. Train embarked on a voyage around the world in 1870. He got caught up in revolutionary activity in the Paris commune and was jailed for awhile. After being released, he resumed the voyage, completing it in 80 days (not including jail time). He was the inspiration for Phineas Fogg in Jules Verne's famed novel "Around the World in 80 Days." However, item 105, from 1891, recounts his 1890 journey when Train completed his circumnavigation in just 67 days, then a record time. His starting, and ending point was Tacoma, Washington. Two years later, he made it in 60 days. $125.

Item 186 is, The Theory of the Earth, Containing an Account of The Origin of the Earth... bound with several other works by Thomas Burnet. Burnet was a chaplain to the English king and a geological theorist in the late 17th century. He attempted to explain the geologic features of the Earth consistently with scripture. Like many others, he attributed fossils and other geologic features to the great flood of Noah. He believed that the Earth had been a perfectly round, featureless surface prior to the flood. Within the planet, strata had precipitated according to density, with rock and heavy metals deep, and pockets of water near the surface. He concluded that the flood waters must have ascended from these water pockets because there was not enough water on the surface to explain the event. However, this water pocket theory was not always popular with church authorities who saw the center of the Earth as being hot as Hell, quite literally. According to Burnet, at the time of the flood, the waters burst up to the surface, breaking the Earth's perfectly smooth surface like an eggshell. Those shell fragments created mountains and rocks. The waters eventually receded back into the Earth, but the surface was left in ruins, ruins which we see today. Burnet's books are priced at $1,500.

Schoyer's Antiquarian Books may be reached at 510-548-8009 or by email at dsbooks@comcast.net

Rare Book Monthly

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