Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2008 Issue

North (and South) to the Poles from Aquila Books

Aquila208

Polar Exploration from Aquila Books.


By Michael Stillman

Aquila Books of Calgary has issued its second catalogue of the year, Catalogue 208. Aquila specializes in books and ephemera relating to the Polar Regions or other territories so far north or south that few of us who are neither polar bears nor penguins could survive. Nonetheless, many intrepid humans have ventured to explore these barren lands, even in the era when such journeys were not even remotely safe or comfortable. Many of these brave souls never returned. We can only wonder at the courage and sense of adventure they possessed, and perhaps question their sanity. Whatever their motivation, they have left us with adventures to relive from the warmth and safety of our homes. Here are a few of their amazing tales.

Item 14 is the all-time classic polar horror story: The Worst Journey in the World. Antarctic 1910-1913, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard. It wasn't that nice. Cherry-Garrard writes, "Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised." Cleanest because you never change your clothes, but still don't get dirty. Cherry-Garrard was an assistant zoologist on the Robert Scott expedition to the South Pole. Scott hoped to be the first to reach the pole, but when he arrived in January of 1912, he discovered that Roald Amundsen had beat him by a few weeks. It got much worse from there, as terrible blizzard conditions prevented Scott and his three companions from returning to base camp. They died in the ice and snow. Cherry-Garrard was one of those who found their bodies. However, the author had his own terrible personal adventure as he and two others set out on a side trip to observe emperor penguins. He was the only one of those three to make it back alive. Offered is a first edition, published in 1922, of what Aquila notes has been described as "the best polar book ever written." Priced at $7,500.

Item 77 is a promotional piece with a polar connection: Gabardine In Peace and War. This circa 1911 publication promoted gabardine, a fabric created by Burberrys for outdoor use. One of the chapters features testimonials from some of the great polar explorers, Scott, Shackleton and Nansen. Of course, as previously noted, Scott froze to death, which probably wouldn't be too helpful for sales, but perhaps he wasn't wearing his gabardine underwear at the time. $100.

The man who beat Scott to the South Pole, Roald Amundsen, went on a speaking tour to share his discoveries. Item 3 is a small broadside promoting his stop in Toronto, likely from 1913. It is headed Massey Hall the Greatest Lecture Since the Days of Henry M. Stanley. Capt. Roald Amundsen Illustrated Lecture "How I Discovered the South Pole." Seats ranged from $.50 to $1. $125.

Some of the best early descriptions of Greenland come from the Moravian orders who went there to mission to the natives. Why the Moravians were so intent on Greenland is unclear. Perhaps all of the more temperate lands had been taken by the larger religions. Whatever the reason, David Crantz of The Brethren's Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel Among the Heathen produced the two-volume work The History of Greenland, Containing a Description of the Country, and Its Inhabitants: And Particularly, a Relation of the Mission... Item 17 is a first English edition, published in 1767. $1,750.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>
  • <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.

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