Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2007 Issue

Antiquarian Photographs of the East Indies from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

Eastindies

The East Indies in photographs from Bernard J. Shapero.


By Michael Stillman

The latest offering from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books is more a picture catalogue than one of books. In fact, despite their name of "rare books," this catalogue is strictly one of photographs. Technically, it won't offer much to add to your antiquarian book collection. However, if you collect by topic, time, or place, you may want to give this collection some serious thought. The title is The East Indies, and inside are photographs of this area from the dawn of photography (mid-19th century), to the early 20th century. The photographs are historic, and at times, spectacular.

To digress briefly, for those wondering why we would review a photography catalogue on this site, it represents no change of focus. We encourage collectors to expand beyond strictly the printed word in areas where appropriate. That might be difficult if you collect in fields such as first editions or fine bindings, but if you collect, for example, antiquarian books from the East Indies, photographs will add a wonderful dimension to your collection. A few mounted photographs on the wall will certainly add to the understanding of the books on your shelf. There is no disloyalty to the printed word in adding images from the visual world.

Shapero Rare Books' possession of these photographs is easily explained by the firm's location, in England. During the time these photographs were taken, much of the East Indies, notably India itself, was in British possession. Most of the photographers were English. What's more, India was larger in those days. Prior to its obtaining independence, India included the lands that are today Pakistan and Bangladesh. Religious and ethnic strife would cause the country to split apart once the outside hand of the British was no longer present to enforce unity. There has been at best an uneasy peace between the old nation's parts in the six decades since the British were driven from the land. Here are a few samples of the photographs being offered from the colonial period. In some cases, single photographs are offered, while in others it is large collections.

For those who think America's trials in Afghanistan are something new, they are actually more an example of history repeating itself again and again. Afghanistan, with its difficult mountainous territory, has always been hard for outsiders to control. Perhaps for that reason, it has long been a focal point for battles between major powers, with the Afghans constantly playing the role of foil. Today, it is a focal point of the conflict between America and extra-national terrorists. Two decades ago, it was the focus of the old East-West conflict, and the Soviets' defeat led to the collapse of that once powerful empire. However, this was nothing new. The British fought three wars in Afghanistan, competition with the Russians being the primary cause. The Afghans long ago learned to play one side against the other as a means to preserving their own independence.

Item 2 is a collection of 73 photographs taken by Dr. Benjamin Simpson circa 1880, the time of the Second Anglo Afghan War. Simpson was a British army surgeon. As was typical, the British invaded Afghanistan to overthrow a pro-Russian leader. They were mostly successful in their military campaigns, and yet eventually pulled back from the area once achieving the basic objectives. The land could not be controlled. Most British casualties resulted from disease and tough conditions, rather than combat. The Simpson collection is priced at L30,000 (British pounds, or US equivalent of around $59,381).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Keep Calm and Carry On</i>, designer unknown, 1939. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, <i>Le Journal / La Traite des Blanches</i>, 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>"Let Us Go Forward Together,"</i> designer unknown, 1940. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Babylone d'Allemagne</i>, 1894. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Frank Beatty, <i>Out of the Running</i>, 1929. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Wake Up America Day</i>, 1917. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Danté / Sim • Sala • Bim!</i>, designer unknown. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>[Zodiac]</i>, 1900. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Rick Griffin, <i>Jimi Hendrix Experience / John Mayall</i>, 1968. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Abram Games, <i>Join the ATS</i>, 1941. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Aldo Mazza, <i>Torino / Esposizione Internazionale</i>, 1911. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Robert Motherwell, <i>Julliard School / Dedication - Lincoln Center</i>, 1969. $3,000 to $4,000
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…

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