Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2006 Issue

American Adventure, Exploration &c. From Arthur H. Clark

Clark925

Catalogue number 925 from The Arthur H. Clark Company


By Michael Stillman


We recently received catalogue number 925 from The Arthur H. Clark Company of Spokane, Washington. They have been in the business now for over a century, but by my math, that still comes to a catalogue about every 40 days. Obviously, they have had a long time to perfect this process. As usual, number 925 is an interesting collection of Americana, with a focus on the West, plus a few other topics thrown in for variety. Here is a brief look at the 342 items within this latest of a long line of book catalogues.

It was America's first major arctic exploration, and it proved to be both a success and a horrific disaster. As part of the first International Polar Year, the United States sent out an expedition to make observations and record the weather (cold) in the far, far Canadian North of Elsmere Island. Twenty-five men, under the command of Lieutenant Adolphus Greely, set up shop in Fort Conger, on Lady Franklin Bay (named for the widow of an earlier Arctic explorer who lost his life searching for a northwest passage). They arrived in 1881 and all went according to plan. Unfortunately, bad weather prevented their supply ship from reaching the men in the summer of 1882. Nevertheless, they stuck it out. However, when supplies again failed to reach them in the summer of 1883, Greely made the decision to abandon the fort and use their small boats to head south. They made it 500 miles down the coast of Ellsmere Island before winter conditions forced them settle at Cape Sabine. By this time, many of the men, including the staff physician, were in virtual mutiny against Greely, who despite what would later be a long and distinguished career, was not well trained for dealing with arctic conditions. The men had headed south with 40 days worth of food, and now had to winter over. Hunting and fishing only brought in meager rations, and the men began to starve. What followed was horrific conditions of starvation, freezing, and cannibalism. By the time they were rescued the following year, only six, including Greely, had survived. Item 160 is Adolphus W. Greely's International Polar Expedition: Report of the proceedings of the United States Expedition to Lady Franklin Bay, Grinnell Land, published in 1888. Priced at $175.

Alaska is a fairly cold place too, but for a couple of days in 1912, part of the Alaskan peninsula was heated by one of the most spectacular volcanic eruptions in recorded history. Ten years later, Robert Griggs published this account, The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, for the National Geographic Society. The eruption from Mount Katmai devastated all plant and animal life for miles. Griggs reported that the volcano covered an area the size of New York City with ten to fifteen feet of ash. Furthermore, if New York had been the volcano's site, even Philadelphia would have been under a foot of ash and dark for two and one-half days, and Washington and Buffalo would have had a thin ash covering. Over seven cubic miles of ash were said to have been released into the atmosphere. Item 3. $60.

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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