Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2007 Issue

The Dutch East Indies from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje

Best128

The Dutch East Indies from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje.


By Michael Stillman

The latest catalogue from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje is entitled Rare Nineteenth Century Brochures in the Dutch East Indies Present-Day Indonesia. The Dutch controlled Indonesia until the Second World War, which began the rapid dismantling of the old colonial system. Since Indonesia was part of the Dutch empire, it is not surprising that a Dutch bookseller such as Bestebreurtje would have access to this material. Most of these brochures were gathered by a Dutch collector during the first half of the twentieth century. However, the items themselves are from the nineteenth century. Among the subjects covered are: the Cultivation System, compulsory labor, budgetary surplus, administration, navy and army, the missionary society, church and Islam, railways, the Aceh war, opium, sugar, tobacco, rice, tin and coal. Authors include statesmen and political leaders, businessmen, entrepreneurs, journalists, and others involved with the area. The language of the pamphlets is Dutch. Here is a quick sampling of the type of material available.

Item 4 is one of many works on Cultuurstelsel or the Cultivation System (or Forced Cultivation). Losing money on its East Indian colony in 1830, the Dutch instituted a system which required that one-fifth of crops grown in the colony be produced for export. The financial benefits to the Netherlands were enormous. Not only did it erase their colonial deficits, it created great surpluses which were used to pay for projects at home, such as railroads, and to deal with colonial expenses in other lands. It also was beneficial to the wealthier natives who knew how to play the system. However, for the poor farmers, it generally meant more work, and at times food shortages as land was transferred from rice to export production. Eventually reports of its impact on the poor farmers led to the gradual dismantling of the system through the second half of the 19th century. This item was written by Hieronymus van Alphen, two volumes from 1869-70. Priced at €225 (Euros, or roughly $300 in U.S. dollars).

Items 7-9 pertain to Jacobus Johannes van Angelbeek. He was serving on the High Court of the Dutch East Indies when he refused to sign a death warrant. The result was he was sent back to Holland on "sick leave." Priced at €225 each (US $300).

Item 49 is an 1865 work by P. van Diest pertaining to Bangka and its tin mines. Bangka is an island east of Sumatra where tin has been mined since 1710. It was the major export in the 19th century and continues to be a major resource to this day. €295 (US $394).

Item 117 by Sebastiaan Nederburgh (1889) discusses means of reducing the opium trade on Java. Opium was unfortunately a major income producer for the East Indies. €65 (US $87).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions