Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2003 Issue

Unique New Catalogues from<br>Martayan Lan and Oak Knoll Books

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Anatomy as it was studied five centuries ago.Martayan Lan #105



By Mike Stillman

Martayan Lan’s “Rare Books Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries” is a remarkable collection of old, rare, and important documents. This is not meant for the average person, but for those collectors or institutions with major collections and the means to support them. For those for whom this is appropriate, this is a wonderful catalogue.

The catalogue is broken into three subjects: travel, geography and voyages; history of science; arts and humanities. The offerings, which include works of many of history’s most significant personalities, are spectacular. Most are very old, including numerous items of incunabula.

We will only mention a few of the items offered, with a focus, at least within travels and voyages, on those related to America. However, there are 177 items in all, mostly European, and Martayan Lan provides thorough descriptions and histories for practically every one.

For example, item 3, Peregrinationes in terram sanctam by Bernhard von Breydenbach is described as the first illustrated travel book. It was a best seller in its time, with eight editions qualifying as incunabula. This is a first edition from 1486. The book recounts a journey to the Holy Land from 1483-1484, and is replete with numerous illustrations of cities in Europe and the Middle East. Priced at $235,000.

Item 8 is The Present State of New England…by William Hubbard. Published in 1677 (this is the first London edition, following one from Boston), it recounts much of the settlers’ history, but is most noted for its description of King Philip’s War. Metacomet (“King Philip”) was leader of the Wampanoag Indian tribe, and he was able to unite several tribes in an attempt to ward off the advancing settlers. Ultimately, like many Native Americans who followed, he was unable to stop their advance, but not before enormous casualties were inflicted, on both sides. This book includes what was, in the Boston edition, the first map produced entirely in America. $55,000.

Item 10, from Francisco Ibar, is Muerte Politco de la Republica Mexicana… This consists of 33 bound issues of a periodical describing Mexican-American relations in 1828-1829. Ibar did not believe that his neighbor to the north was acting in good faith, but that it had designs on parts of Mexican territory. He cannot be said to have been mistaken. $1,850.

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