50 Fine Travel Books from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
by Michael Stillman
Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books has issued a new title in its series of fifty fine books: 50 Fine Travel Books 2008. Along with numerous travel narratives this catalogue includes some navigational guides, maps, manuscript logs, broadsides, and many signed items. These are English language works, though a few were translated from other tongues. They are all, as the title says, fine works, ranging in age from half a century to over four centuries old. Here are a few.
Item 8 is an 1860 first edition of Richard Burton's The Lake Regions of Central Equatorial Africa... The copy bears an author's inscription to "Capt. Mansfield (late U.S. Consul Zanzibar) Salem Mass." Daniel Mansfield of Massachusetts was America’s first consul to Zanzibar, serving from 1856-1859, and Burton likely met him there, since his exploration of the lakes of Central Africa commenced from Zanzibar. In 1860, Burton traveled across the Atlantic to America to begin a journey to Salt Lake, and may have met up with Mansfield again during that trip. This book recounts the journey that took Burton and John Speke to Lake Tanganyika, and led to Speke's belief, disputed by Burton, that Lake Victoria was the source of the Nile. The two had a major falling out, though ultimately Speke was proven correct. Priced at £10,000 (U.S. equivalent of approximately $19,943).
Item 43 is a broadside Catalogue of Goods, &c. For Sale at S. Solomon's Ware-House, Corner of Ladder-Hill, St. Helena. St. Helena is the isolated South Atlantic Island best known as the final exile of Napoleon. This undated broadside comes from around 1814 and these items would have been the type of goods likely available during Napoleon's residence. Shapero reports that the Solomon family's oral tradition reputes that their ancestor was friendly to Napoleon and once provided a silk ladder to be used in an escape attempt. £1,650 ($3,290).
Sir Richard Hawkins was one of those explorer-privateers of an earlier age (he more fancied himself an explorer, the Spanish saw him more as pirate). He served under his father, a British Admiral, and the famed British explorer-privateer Francis Drake. He also commanded a ship in the battle against the Spanish Armada before securing the ship "Dainty" (who named that boat?) and sailing for South America in 1593. He rounded the Straits of Magellan and did some exploring and plundering before being trapped by a couple of Spanish ships. He fought them off as best he could but finally, with many of his men dead and he seriously wounded, was forced to surrender. Hawkins spent the next nine years imprisoned in South America and Spain before finally being released. He was knighted on his return to England where he became a Member of Parliament and held other important positions. He finally got around to publishing the story of his South American trip in 1622, the year he died. Item 19 is Hawkins' The Observations of Sir Richard Hawkins Knight, in his Voiage into the South Sea. Anno Domini 1593. £18,500 (US $36,895).