"The Ways of the World" from Helen R. Kahn
By Michael Stillman
The latest catalogue from Montreal bookseller Helen R. Kahn and Associates is The Ways of the World - Sixteenth to Twentieth Centuries. This time you can ignore the fact that Helen Kahn is situated in Canada. This is not a collection of Canadiana. It is international in scope, with most works coming from Europe. Indeed much of the material undoubtedly predates the first press to appear in Canada. This is a varied catalogue, including the topics of history and natural science, religion and philosophy, economics and politics, science and medicine, travels and voyages. This should cover a great many collections.
The works come in many languages. With very early works, naturally, there is a good number in Latin, but other European languages such as French, Italian, and English are found. There are quite a few works pertaining to Hungary, so while I am not sufficiently knowledgeable on the topic to provide much help, Hungarian collectors (as in collectors of Hungary) should take note. I am going to cheat here as we take a look inside the catalogue's pages and focus on works in English since I struggle with other languages. Those less linguistically challenged should be aware that there is much more here. Now let's take a look inside.
Kahn offers two early unofficial reports of Cook's second voyage. Both of these precede the official version. Cook's second voyage was his farthest south. He never quite reached the Antarctic continent, but he traveled far enough to the south to put an end once and for all to the belief that there existed a massive southern continent. Item 70 is Journal of the Resolution's Voyage, In 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775. On Discovery to the Southern Hemisphere, by which the Non-Existence of an undiscovered Continent...is demonstratively proved. The author, John Marra, a low-ranking crewman, published the work anonymously since such unofficial reports were discouraged by British naval authorities. Nevertheless, Marra's account was the first by someone who participated in the expedition, published in 1775, 18 months before the official report. Priced at $12,500.
Item 40 is A Voyage Round the World, in His Britannic Majesty's Sloop, Resolution... by George Forster. Forster and his father were naturalists on the expedition. They also published their work without permission, despite using notes from Cook's journal. They, too, beat the official version, by six weeks. $9,850.
Here is another first that precedes the noted version. Item 57 is The Life of Samuel Johnson, not by Boswell, but by Sir John Hawkins. Published in 1787, Hawkins' biography precedes Boswell's, though the latter is the one everyone knows. $800.