Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2017 Issue

Travel Books from Peter Harrington



Peter Harrington has issued a new catalogue of Travel. The catalogue is new, the travels old. Most are from the 18th or 19th century, a few much older. They do come from times when European knowledge of far off lands was limited. In other words, these are discovery travels, not tourist visits. While anywhere is fair game, there was not as much exploration of the Americas at this time, so Asia and the Middle East, Africa, and the polar regions are the destinations of most of these travels. Here are a few of the accounts found in this catalogue.


We start with the book Harrington describes as "the first definitive European work on the Chinese empire." It is written in French, Description geographique historique, chronologique, politique, et physique de l’Empire de la Chine et de la Tartarie chinoise, published in 1735. It contains four volumes and is filled with a wealth of information about China. It covers everything from geography to political institutions, education, language, medicine, science, customs and artifacts. The book includes 43 original maps by Jean Baptiste Bourguignon, described as "the finest cartographer of his time." The book was the work of French Jesuit historian Jean-Baptiste Du Halde. Ironically, Du Halde never set foot in China. He gathered manuscripts from 27 Jesuit missionaries, along with Chinese sources. Added were a few unpublished accounts by others, including Bering, who visited Kamchatka and also parts of the Alaskan coast. It was the first European description of Alaska. Item 47. Priced at £37,500 (British pounds, or approximately $49,392 U.S. dollars).


In 1911, the North Pole having finally been reached (allegedly) a couple of years earlier, there was a race to be first to reach the remaining pole. It was between Norwegian Roald Amundsen and Englishman Robert Falcon Scott. Here is the account by the winner: The South Pole. An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the "Fram," 1910-1912. Amundsen did a far better job of planning for his attack on the Pole. He was better equipped, planned his supply stops better, was more skilled at navigating the icy conditions, picked a shorter route, and was fortunate enough to have better weather. He reached his destination on December 14, 1911. A little over a month later, Scott reached the South Pole second, and when the weather deteriorated, was unable to make his way back, freezing to death on the ice. Item 3 is the 1912 London first English edition of Amundsen's account, which must have been bittersweet reading for the British having lost the race. £3,000 (US $3,928).


This book represents both a monument to exhaustive study on a subject and an important, if not fully appreciated, scientific discovery. Alfred Russel Wallace traveled to the Malay Archipelago to study its natural history, releasing his findings in this 1869 book, The Malay Archipelago: The land of the Orang-Utan, and the Bird of Paradise. A Narrative of Travel, with Studies of Man and Nature. He traveled from island to island, covering 14,000 miles during his eight-year sojourn. In the process, he collected an astonishing 126,500 specimens, including 200 new species of birds and over 1,000 of insects. The two volumes cover Wallace's findings and his exploits in gathering the data, including his attempts to capture a bird of paradise, track down the orang-utan, and dealing with the natives, many of whom had no previous contact with Europeans. However, what is most notable is Wallace's theory to explain the similarities yet differences between species isolated from each other on separate islands. Wallace returned home in 1854, and his conclusion was the explanation must be evolution by natural selection. You might say, of course it was, but Charles Darwin, while having already reached a similar conclusion from his work in South America, had not published his theory. Wallace came to essentially the same conclusion separately. In fact, he sent his findings to Darwin as a fellow, notable natural history scientist. Darwin realized he needed to publish his findings quickly or be left behind. The result was that Darwin and Wallace jointly published a paper prior to Darwin's book On the Origin of Species. Wallace had no problem with most of the credit going to his fellow scientist and became one of Darwin's greatest disciples. Item 139 is a copy of Wallace's book, published 15 years after he returned to England. £5,750 (US $7,530).


Here is a book that takes us to the Americas, Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan. It is a limited edition (300 copies) collection of 25 outstanding illustrations by artist Frederick Catherwood, published in 1844. Catherwood accompanied American explorer John Lloyd Stephens on two journeys to Central America in the late 1830s and early 1840s. While there, they chanced upon some ancient Mayan ruins. They had visited ancient Egyptian ruins earlier and found these so different that he concluded they must have been built by an ancient native civilization. Stephens wrote two books about the Mayan ruins which Catherwood illustrated. However, this is a folio book of illustrations, and the larger format makes the images much clearer than they were in the earlier smaller format books. Item 29. £45,000 (US $58,988).


This is a description of a harebrained scheme that never came to pass: The Flooding of the Sahara. An Account of the Proposed Plan for Opening Central Africa to Commerce and Civilization from the North-West Coast... The author was Donald Mackenzie, and the date was 1877, which was not long after the opening of the Suez Canal. This would have been a more monumental project. There are depressions in the Sahara where the land is below sea level. Mackenzie reasoned these could be connected to water from the northwest coast of Africa to create an inland sea. From there, a canal could be built into central Africa. This would open the region to European vessels from the north. The project would have been enormous and recent studies have indicated it would have been a failure. More of the Sahara is actually above sea level than Mackenzie realized. Item 88. £975 (US $1,278).


Peter Harrington may be reached at 020 7591 0220 (USA 011 44 20 7591 0220) or mail@peterharrington.co.uk. Their website is www.peterharrington.co.uk.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <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
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> George Washington, Letter Signed to General James Clinton, preparing for the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, 1778. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising to send reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Edison, Autograph Letter Signed, to Western Union President William Orton, 1878. $10,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> William, Bishop of Coventry, vellum charter granting the church of Rochdale to the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw, in Latin, 1222. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> FDR, Photograph Signed & Inscribed, framed with wood removed from the White House roof, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Dubuffet, archive including many letters written while painting in NYC, 1951-72. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autograph Letter Signed, describing the source of his patience, 1939. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Lithograph portrait of Albert Einstein by Hermann Struck, signed by both, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Letter Signed to Johann IV of Nassau, in French, 1470. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Cocteau, Autograph Letter Signed, in French, 1919. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Louis Armstrong, two Autograph Letters Signed to Erich Kauffmann, his lip salve purveyor, 1965-70. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Wernher von Braun, Autograph Letter Signed to Jonathan Cross, 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <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>

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