Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2009 Issue

Maritime Books from Ten Pound Island

Tenpound186

Maritime books from Ten Pound Island.


By Michael Stillman

A new catalogue for those who are drawn to the sea has arrived from the Ten Pound Island Book Company, Maritime List 186. This catalogue is filled with works pertaining to sea voyages, naval confrontations, sailing, shipbuilding and design, and all sorts of books that are related to the seas (and a few connected to rivers). Those who believe books and water don't mix will find this a great awakening. These are some of the books we found in this latest catalogue-by-the-sea.

Item 10 is an important work on American whaling at the middle of the 19th century: Etchings of a Whaling Cruise, with a Note of a Brief Sojourn on the Island of Zanzibar. This book, which provides much information about Pacific whaling, was written by Ross Browne and published in 1846. A review of it written by Herman Melville was published in Literary World the following year. It was an important resource for Melville who published what many consider the "great American novel," Moby-Dick, a whaling story, four years later. Priced at $950.

There would be far fewer exciting sea tales were it not for the one major unpredictable factor that changes smooth sailing to stormy seas - the weather. There are few places where the weather can be as unpredictable as the land of the perfect storm, New England. For the past century-plus, we have good records of climatic history. Here is a book that provides a look at events prior to regular recordkeeping, Sidney Perley's 1891 Salem-published book, Historic Storms of New England. The books describes, "Its gales, hurricanes, tornadoes, showers with thunder and lightening, great snow storms, rains, freshets, floods, droughts, cold winters, hot summers, avalanches, earthquakes, dark days, comets, aurora-borealis, phenomena in the heavens, wrecks along the coast, with incidents and anecdotes, amusing and pathetic." Sounds like a very dangerous place to live. Item 83. $150.

Item 35 is Charles Fay's 1942 book about perhaps the greatest of all mystery ship stories, entitled Mary Celeste. The Mary Celeste was a sailing ship which left New York in 1872, loaded with barrels of alcohol destined for Italy, where the cargo would be used to fortify wine. There were ten on board, the experienced Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife and young daughter, and a crew of seven. The ship was discovered about a month later, unmanned, adrift at sea, no signs of any trauma or indication of why the crew had disappeared. There was some water in the hold, but not enough to make her unseaworthy. None of the cargo was missing, though nine of the barrels were empty. A few pieces of navigation equipment were gone as was the lifeboat. There were no signs of any struggle such as to imply piracy of mutiny. No pirates had operated in the area for decades and nothing of consequence was missing. There were no reports of bad weather, and despite the water, an experienced captain such as Briggs would have known there was no immediate risk of sinking. To this day the disappearance of the crew remains a mystery. The most likely explanations appear to be that the empty barrels had leaked, causing strong fumes that led a panicked crew to evacuate in fear of explosion, or that a waterspout had led them to believe the ship was sinking. Some speculated that those on the ship that found the Mary Celeste murdered the crew for the salvage reward. However, these are just theories, not likely ones, just perhaps a bit less unlikely than others advanced. $125.

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.

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