Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2008 Issue

Travel and Voyages from Maggs Bros.

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Travel and Voyages from Maggs Bros.



By Michael Stillman

Maggs Bros. Ltd. has issued their 1,416th catalogue: Travel and Voyages. That astonishing number is explained by the fact that Maggs has been around longer than many of the antiquarian books they sell. The firm was founded over a century and a half ago, when Sir John Franklin was newly missing, Richard Burton was just beginning to travel, and explorer David Livingstone's name was not yet associated with that of Stanley. Who better to present a collection of antiquarian travel works than a firm that could have purchased them when new?

Offered in this catalogue are 250 items, including some of the major travel narratives, but many lesser-known items as well. A large number are more visual in nature - images of faraway (from Europe) lands at a time when they were little known to the outside world. Here are a few you will find.

Item 203 is a personal letter to "My dear Sons" from the author of the first textbook on American geography published in the United States, Jedidiah Morse. As Morse explains, he was traveling at the time: "I am writing on board the Frontinac British Steam boat, at anchor in ye mouth of the Niagara river..." Morse goes on to say that he left Buffalo a week earlier, spent a few hours at the Falls, and visited with the Governor of Upper Canada, among other things. In this Aug. 4, 1821 letter, Morse encourages that they publish his atlas quickly as he believes it will sell well in Canada. Presumably, among the “dear sons” to which this letter is addressed is Samuel Morse, who a decade and a half later would develop the first telegraph and the Morse code, radically advancing the speed of human communication. Priced at £650 (or approximate US equivalent of $1,295).

Item 121 is one of the most important sets of voyages for any collector: the complete official set of Captain James Cook's three voyages. These are first editions, from 1773, 1777 and 1784, eight volumes and the atlas. This set comes with an interesting provenance. They were a gift of the Bishop of Salisbury to Princess Charlotte Augusta for her 17th birthday in 1813. Charlotte was the only child of the Prince of Wales, which put her in line to become the British Queen one day. It was not to be. Less than four years later, Charlotte died during childbirth of a stillborn son. The result was that there were no heirs of her generation to the throne, only her father and his brothers, none of whom had legitimate heirs. This led to a quick marriage by a 50-year-old uncle which would produce one child and legitimate heir, the future Queen Victoria. She never would have been queen had Charlotte survived. £42,500 (US $84,758).

Item 181 is Richard Newton's Tit bits in the West Indies. No, that wasn't a Freudian slip. Maggs explains, "this is a good example of the bawdy humour for which he was particularly well known." This is a hand-colored three-panel lithograph from the clever, radical British caricaturist drawn in 1798. Unfortunately, his "subversive" political beliefs and off-color humor limited the distribution of Newton's work, and his career was exceedingly brief. He died later that year at the age of 21. £2,500 (US $4,985).

"What's the matter with Kansas" is the question asked by a recent bestseller. Well, James P. Price had the answer to that question over a century ago. He wrote about it in Seven Years of Prairie Life, published in 1891. Price, his wife and four children immigrated to Kansas from England to take up farming. They spent six and a half years there, only to find it a less than rewarding experience. He writes about the "destructive cyclone...the terrible hailstorm...the bitter northern blasts...the long-continued drought...the flashing of lightening." Ultimately, they decided to return to "old England," where he evidently lived out his life as a farmer and grocer. This copy contains an author inscription from 1900. Item 205. £450 ($897).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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>

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