Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2005 Issue

24 Travel and Other Items from Hordern House

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Twenty-four rare books, manuscripts and prints from Hordern House.


By Michael Stillman

Hordern House
has issued a brief, yet extensive catalogue of rare books, manuscripts and prints. It is brief in that only 24 items are offered, but each comes with a detailed description and photograph (two quarto pages for each). Naturally, these are all extraordinary items. Hordern House is an Australian bookseller, so there is a concentration of Australian and Pacific material, and most relate to various travels and voyages. However, there are always exceptions. The items range from a 1492 Florence printing of the travels of Sir John Mandeville to 1851 hand-colored lithographs of sketches of the South Sea Islands by Conway Shipley. Here are a few of the items in between.

Certainly one of the most preeminent of all voyagers was Captain James Cook. Cook undertook three voyages to the Pacific region in the 1770s. Scientific experiments along with an attempt to locate what was then believed to be a massive southern continent were foremost on his mind. Cook would go on to do much of the mapping of Australia, and his last expedition would take him to the west coast of America and the Hawaiian Islands (where he was killed by the locals). However, in his earlier days, Cook helped chart the St. Lawrence River in North America. Item 10 is a certificate of discharge from the surveying ship Pembroke for one Thomas Warren, discharged for the very logical reason that he had died. It is signed by both Cook and his mentor aboard ship, Captain John Simcoe. Priced at AU $65,000 (Australian dollars, or US equivalent $50,007).

One of the scientific instruments Cook brought along for testing on his second voyage was John Harrison's clock. A highly accurate clock was needed for determining location. Voyagers were readily able to determine their latitude by measuring the sun's angle at high noon. However, longitude was a problem. To determine longitude, they needed to know the time lapse between high noon at Greenwich and high noon at their current location. This necessitated a highly accurate timepiece to tell Greenwich time. Harrison's development of such a clock was the missing link needed to accurately inform travelers of their location. Item 11 is The Principles of Mr. Harrison's Time-Keeper... This is the first edition in French and English, from 1767, the same year as the first English edition. AU $44,000 (US $33,744).

Also present on Cook's second voyage, along with Harrison's timepiece, was George Vancouver, a boy of just 15. He next served on Cook's final voyage, and about ten years later, was placed in charge of an expedition to the west coast of North America. His legacy includes leaving his name on well-known cities and islands in Canada and Washington State. Despite his many discoveries, Vancouver faced a disciplinary action when he returned and ended his life in obscurity.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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