Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2006 Issue

The Americas from Helen Kahn Rare Books

Kahn68

The Americas from Helen Kahn.


By Michael Stillman

Helen R. Kahn and Associates Rare Books
have issued their 68th catalogue of The Americas. This one is spectacular. It is filled with travel books, many of which I never knew existed. If you are interested in explorations, primarily in North America, but a few to the south, you need this catalogue. Being a Canadian bookseller, there are a few more journeys to the frozen far north than to southern plantations, but there is plenty of material pertaining to travels on both sides of the 49th parallel. Still, I can't help but wonder why so many people felt compelled to spend years surveying the God-forsaken cold of the Arctic. What were they hoping to find there? So many succeeded in finding little but their own mortality in the bitterly cold expanses of ice, but their adventures are riveting and make most interesting reading from the comfort of our well-heated homes.

Many of the books tie together the not always easy relationship between North America's two large nations. In the early days, the split was more between the British and French empires, much of the continent belonging to France until the end of the French and Indian War. With the American Revolution, the division became the U.S.-Canadian border, and there are numerous books concerning those skirmishes, which were for the most part resolved after the War of 1812. There are also numerous books on the Indians, frequently referred to as "savages" by those who savagely stole their land, and, of course, the requisite "Indian captivities." Here are a few of the titles within this fascinating, thoroughly described catalogue of the Americas.

Alexander Mackenzie traveled through the wilderness of Canada to the Arctic Circle in 1789. Much of the trip followed the river today known as the Mackenzie, which flows north from cold to colder. However, his trip four years later was even more significant. A dozen years before Lewis and Clark, Mackenzie was the first to cross North America by land north of Mexico. Following a series of rivers as well as overland and over mountain trails, he made it down the Bella Coola River to an inlet from the Pacific. He painted his name and date - July 22, 1793 - on a rock ("Mackenzie's Rock") to show where he arrived. While Mackenzie was an explorer, his travels were financed by the North West Company, looking to break into the fur trade dominated by the Hudson's Bay Company. Item 69 is an 1801 first edition of his Voyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence, through the Continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans, in the Years 1789 and 1793.... Priced at $7,000 (all prices in U.S. dollars).

Item 3 is an important piece concerning the Louisiana Purchase, Histoire de la Lousiane et la Cession de cette Colonie... (History of Louisiana and the cession of that colony by France to the United States). It was written by Francois Barbe-Marbois, who helped negotiate the treaty for France. One point that the author makes clear is that French claims for the territory ended at the 110th meridian. This runs roughly along the Rocky Mountains. The map in this book contradicts claims the United States would later make in its territorial disputes with Great Britain, that it purchased the rights to the Oregon Territory, which is west of the 110th meridian, when it purchased Louisiana. $1,500.

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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