Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2018 Issue

The Arctic from Patrick McGahern Books

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Arctica.

One thing you can count on from Canadian bookseller Patrick McGahern Books is catalogues that are cool. Actually, more than that – they are cold. This is true of their number 261, Arctica. It is filled with explorations and other visits to the land of endless winter. Even when the sun shines 24 hours a day, it is cold. And yet, people continued to make the trek, or voyage, to these far northern lands in the 19th century, long before reliable winter heating, supplies, or transportation could be counted upon. Here are a few of their tales, and other items from the Arctic.

 

It was long a hope of the British to find a Northwest Passage, a shorter route to Asia that did not require going all the way around the southern tip of South America or Africa. It was an elusive goal. The early attempts were made heading west, through Hudson Bay. By the 17th century, reports were that no such route existed. After a century of discouragement, they tried again. Item 13 is an account of the 18th century attempt, under the leadership of Capt. William Moor, A Voyage to Hudson's-Bay, by the Dobbs Galley and California, in the Years 1746 and 1747, for discovering a North West Passage... This account was written by the hydrographer and surveyor, Henry Ellis, and published in 1748. The expedition proved conclusively that there was no route through Hudson Bay, discouraging further investigations for almost another century, when explorers began looking for a more northerly route. Ellis' book also provides much information about the area, particularly the native population, of which little was known at the time. Priced at CA $2,000 (Canadian dollars, or approximately $1,554 in U. S. dollars).

 

John Ross led one of the early attempts to find a Northwest Passage in the 19th century by traveling well north of Hudson Bay. His account can be found in A Voyage of Discovery made under the Orders of the Admiralty, in His Majesty's Ships Isabella and Alexander, for the purpose of Exploring Baffin's Bay, and Inquiring into the probability of a North West Passage, published in 1819. Ross rediscovered Baffin Bay and confirmed the reports of William Baffin's discovery two centuries earlier. However, when he attempted to continue west through Lancaster Sound north of Baffin Island, he was turned back by a range of mountains. Or at least he thought he was. Ross named them the "Crocker Mountains," but unless you visit under the right atmospheric conditions, you will not see these mountains. They were but a mirage. Others on the trip so informed Ross, but he was unconvinced and returned to England. The result was that the admiralty never gave him another command. Ross sailed to the Arctic waters twice more, but these times under private sponsorship. Item 50. CA $7,500 (US $5,828).

 

Item 49 is an autograph document signed by Sir John Ross. It may be a little hard to decipher unless you read Swedish. Ross served as British Consul to Stockholm from 1839-1846. That was a good place to serve for someone who appreciated cold weather as much as Ross evidently did. It lists some stolen items, including gold, silver and china, and their values. It was signed by Ross in 1839. CA $150 (US $116).

 

Item 59 is Travel and Adventure in the Territory of Alaska, formerly Russian America – Now Ceded to the United States – and in various other parts of the North Pacific. This is a publisher's presentation copy of the first edition, published in 1868, of a book written by Frederick Whymper. Alaska may have been U.S. territory when the book was completed, but not when Whymper arrived. Whymper was part of the Russian-American Overland Telegraph Expedition of 1865-1866. That is itself an odd story. When the initial attempt to run a telegraph cable from America to Europe under the Atlantic failed, Western Union got the idea to take a route that required fewer miles underwater. The route from America to Europe requiring the shortest distance underwater runs from Alaska to Siberia. Unfortunately, it also requires far more overland coverage through some very harsh climates. The route ran from San Francisco through Oregon and Washington, British Columbia, Russian Alaska, under the Bering Sea, across Siberia, and on to Moscow. From there it could hook up with existing cables east to Europe. However, the plan was abandoned when a cable was run successfully under the Atlantic. Nevertheless, Whymper got to see Alaska, including its takeover by America, the Yukon, and eastern Russia. CA $450 (US $349).

 

There was a way to see the north without enduring the hardships and cold. You could view this two-hour illustrated lecture – All about Alaska the Klondike Gold Fields and the Wonderful Talking Machine. Item 5 is a large broadside on pink paper which featured the machine that "Talks Laughs Plays Sings." Today we would call it a phonograph, but in 1898, before the Victor Talking Machine Company started producing the machines for the public, this was still an amazing invention. As the poster explains, "The reproduction of the voice in either song or speech is so natural and the articulation so distinct that anyone would believe it a human being except that they knew the difference, and its reproduction of instrumental music is phenomenal." It continues, "Special arrangements have been made for magnifying the sound, so that all may hear the entire concert while comfortably seated in any part of the hall." These were the days before electronic amplification, so they had to use the technology of a megaphone to make the sound heard. Meanwhile, "50 Magnificent Views" would be "Projected from the Magic Lantern." We have come a long way in a relatively short period of time. This poster has room to add the date, place, and price of the performance but they have not been filled in. CA $900 (US $699).

 

Patrick McGahern Books may be reached at 613-230-2277 or books@mcgahernbooks.ca. Their website is www.mcgahernbooks.ca.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Cartwright (George). <i>A Journal of Transactions and Events, during a Residence of nearly Sixteen Years on the Coast of Labrador...,</i> first edition, with A.L.s. from the author, 1792. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Swift (Jonathan). <i>Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World,</i> 2 vol., first edition, Teerink's "A" edition, Printed for Benj. Motte, 1726. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Fourier (Jean Baptiste Joseph). <i>Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur,</i> first edition, Paris, chez Firmin Didot, 1822. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Genealogiae Deorum,</i> additions by Dominicus Silvester and Raphael Zovenzonius, Venice, Vindelinus de Spira, 1472. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Mary I. Letter signed at the head "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, 1 page, 7th June 1556. The recall from exile of nine persons opposed to the Marian regime. £10,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Nelson (Horatio). Autograph Letter signed "Horatio Nelson" and written to Francis Drake, British Minister at Genoa, discussing the disposition of his "Cruizers" near Genoa. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Darwin (Charles). Unpublished Autograph Letter signed to Walter Raleigh Browne, playing down his scientific knowledge of comparative anatomy, 1881. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Murphew (J.). <i>The fair in an uproar, or, the dancing-doggs.</i> As they perform in Mr. Pinkeman's New Opera in Bartholomew Fair, 1707. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Chaucer (Geoffrey). <i>The Workes,</i> by [Nicholas Hill for] Thomas Petit, dwellyng in Paules churche yarde at the sygne of the Maydens heed, 1550. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Austen (Jane). <i>Emma: A Novel,</i> 3 vol., first edition, 1816. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>Stamboul Train,</i> first edition, first issue, 1932. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Churchill.- Fearon (Percy Hutton) "Poy". “Eat More Beef,” pen and ink cartoon with shading in blue pencil, [July 1928]. £400 to £600
  • <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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