Rare and Important Books from Martayan Lan
Item 11 is a significant item of Americana. By Francisco Ibar, it is Muerte Politico de la Republica Mexicana, published in Mexico City in 1829. This is a volume of periodicals concerning U.S.-Mexican relations during the early days of the Mexican Republic. It is filled with attacks on the U.S., which is accused of dishonesty and bad faith in its desire to expand into Mexican territory. That may have seemed unfair to the U.S. at the time, but the accusation of expansionist intentions would prove to be true during the 1840s, as the U.S. absorbed Texas and entered into the Mexican War, taking California and the Southwest as a result. $1,850.
Item 76 may be the first design for building an airship on lighter-than-air principles. Titled Prodomo overo saggio di alcune inventioni nuove premesso all'arte maestri, the author of this 1670 work was Francesco Lana Terzi. His concept was to build four large thin copper spheres, from which heat would be used to remove most of the air. These now lighter-than-air spheres would be used to lift a ship. Unfortunately, Lana Terzi's idea never got off the ground, so to speak. Some of the top scientists of the day examined the idea, and concluded that air pressure would quickly crush the copper spheres. $14,000.
Sir John Ross was one of the more notable early Arctic explorers. In 1818, he was placed in command of an exploration to find a northwest passage to the Pacific. Like so many others, before and after, he failed. In Lancaster Sound of far Northern Canada, Ross concluded that distant mountains, which he called the "Crocker Hills," blocked further progress. This conclusion was challenged by some of his subordinates, including William Parry, but Ross decided to return to England. Parry would later establish that the Crocker Hills were but a mirage. Nonetheless, Ross brought back much useful information about the area, though he was never given command of another naval expedition. Still, he would undertake a privately financed voyage to the Arctic in 1829, and again in 1850 at the age of 72, in an unsuccessful attempt to find missing explorer John Franklin. In his later years, Ross apparently hoped to publish an autobiography, but this never came to pass. Some pieces of his manuscript are around, but item 5 is a particularly substantial one. This is an unpublished and previously unknown autobiographical manuscript from Ross covering the years from his birth in 1777 to his first voyage in 1818. It appears that he wrote these 500 pages about his early life in 1853. $38,500.
Among the more interesting of illustrated books are those on perspective. As numerous paintings from the middle ages showed, many artists could illustrate, but their drawings never looked natural, as they had not mastered the techniques of getting perspective right. Item 136 is a guide from Paul Heineken, Lucidum Prospectivae Speculum... Published in 1727, the image on this page (click to enlarge) gives a sample of Heineken's skills. Item 137. $15,000.
The website for Martayan Lan is www.martayanlan.com,
phone number 212-308-0018.