The Latest Acquisitions by James Cummins Bookseller
Here's a book that sounds like a lot of laughs: Discipline. A Novel. By the Author of 'Self-Control.' Mrs. Mary Brunton was the fun-loving author of this 1815 novel. This is the rare first American edition of a book that examined issues such as "jealousy, pride, suicide, sexual harassment, oppression of the poor, true friendship and true love." That title still scares me. Item 12. $1,000.
Item 18 is a Confederate imprint, which tells us something about the Civil War, though that is not its subject. The book is Joseph II and His Court...by Louise Muhlbach (pseudonym for Klara Mundt). Published in Mobile in 1864, what is notable is that the wrappers were printed on wallpaper. There was such a shortage of paper in the South at the time that some extreme measures were necessary to print a book. $1,500.
Item 46 is an important letter pertaining to an unsuccessful expedition to reach the North Pole. Charles Francis Hall wished to lead such an assault on the Pole, and in 1870, he wrote this letter to Henry Grinnell, noted financial backer of Arctic exploration. In it, Hall explains his plans and strategy, and states, "...I doubt not...I would fully accomplish the determination of my burning soul, which determination my dear Mr. Grinnell, you know to be to put my foot on the North extremity of the axis of the globe..." The following year, Congress financed Hall's expedition, and in September Hall, his party, and the ship Polaris sailed into Greenland to winter over. Unfortunately, Hall suddenly took ill on Greenland, and died on November 8, 1871. At the time it was attributed to apoplexy, most likely a stroke. However, Hall had already lost control of his mutinous crew and believed some of them had poisoned him, a strong possibility, though the truth may never be known. The expedition continued the following year without him, but as the Polaris became icebound, the explorers broke into two groups who were lucky to each eventually be rescued by whalers. It would be another four decades before Robert Peary would finally reach the North Pole (maybe). $10,000.
David Livingstone was a missionary, humanitarian, and one of the greatest African explorers. Despite declining health after many years in the heart of Africa, he refused to leave, even after he was finally located by Henry Stanley ("Dr. Livingstone, I presume"). Livingstone died in 1873, whence began perhaps his most amazing journey. Several of his devoted African followers, including Jacob Wainwright, carried his body from the interior of Africa to the coast, and then brought him by boat back to England, almost a year after he died. Item 62 is a photograph of Wainwright seated next to Livingstone's coffin onboard ship. Price not listed.
James Cummins Bookseller may be found online at www.jamescumminsbookseller.com, telephone 212-688-6441.