Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2007 Issue

The Polar Regions from Aquila Books

Aquila206

Books from the polar regions from Aquila Books.


By Michael Stillman

By February, the snow outside has turned from delightful to oppressive. Most have become tired of bone-chilling cold, the icy landscape, the boots and heavy overcoats. Well, if the theory is correct that hearing how others are suffering even worse than you makes things better, here is the perfect catalogue. This is Catalogue 206 from Aquila Books. Their specialty is "books and ephemera related to all aspects of the polar regions." Here you will read the adventures of people who braved the bitterest of cold, some of the worst natural elements to be found on earth. Minneapolis seemed like Miami to this group, and they did not have highly insulated homes and powerful furnaces to carry them through the harsh nights. So turn up the thermostat, pull up a warm blanket, and hear some of the stories that would curl even Sergeant Preston's toes, brought to you courtesy of Aquila Books of the warm and balmy town of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Among the areas visited by this catalogue are the Arctic, Alaska, Yukon and other territories of the Canadian north, Greenland and Antarctica. Two of the most common subjects are the attempts to reach the two poles, neither achieved until the twentieth century, and the incessant and almost always unsuccessful attempts to discover a northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean. An offshoot of the latter topic was the many attempts to find the lost northwest expedition of Sir John Franklin. It would take many years and attempts to finally discover what happened to Franklin's ill-fated mission of 1845. Here, then, are a few examples of the material Aquila has to offer.

We will ease into the arctic to avoid too much cold shock. Item 32 is the official report of the last of Captain Cook's three voyages, A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Cook did most of his exploring in the southern hemisphere, learning much about Australia and determining there was no massive southern polar continent as once believed. Nonetheless, one of the aims of his final voyage was to find a northwest passage, except unlike most explorers, he was to proceed from the Pacific to the Atlantic, rather than the other way around. However, Cook, unlike the Atlantic explorers, got to winter in Hawaii. His expedition made it through the Bering Strait in 1778, but was forced back that winter by ice. Unfortunately, Cook's return to paradise turned out to be a personal disaster. He was killed by Hawaiian islanders over some seemingly minor disputes. This three-volume plus an atlas set, finished by Captain James King in 1784, is priced at $19,500.

The search for Franklin spurred on the first serious American exploration of the Arctic. The tale of this expedition is retold by its leader, Elisha Kane, in The Arctic Explorations. The Second Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin, 1853, '54, '55. Financed by shipping magnate Henry Grinnell (hence the expedition's name), Kane led his crew north of Baffin Bay and deep into the Arctic. There, the ship was frozen in. They would send out exploratory teams, including one which saw open sea to the north, furthering the belief that there was an open polar sea. The following year, a large group of Kane's men would attempt to leave the expedition and escape to Greenland, only to be forced back to ship by the elements. Ultimately, they all escaped on smaller boats during the summer of 1855, being picked up by a Danish whaling ship. They never found a trace of Franklin. This two-volume account of their harrowing story is item 64. $500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions