Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2009 Issue

Items for the Boston Book Fair from Kevin F. Kelly, Bookseller

Kellyboston2009

For the Boston fair from Kevin F. Kelly, Bookseller.


By Michael Stillman

Kevin F. Kelly, Bookseller, printed a catalogue especially for the recent Boston Antiquarian Book Fair. This is a varied collection, impossible for this reviewer to categorize. There are a number of seafaring books, editions of Aesop's Fables, some manuscript documents concerning rations for Revolutionary War soldiers, items related to early U.S Presidents, some modern literature, a collection of Swiss watch hairsprings... See what I mean? How do you categorize this other than to say if you collect anything, you may find it among the works offered by this New York City bookseller. So, we will take a look at a few of the offerings with the understanding that it is representative only of the quality of the material available, not the subject matter.

Item 33 is the scarce, lesser-known pamphlet concerning one of the most horrendous ship disasters ever recorded. The title is An account of the loss of the Essex, from having been struck by a whale in the South Seas with some interesting particulars of the sufferings of her crew on a desert island and in the boats at sea. The Essex set sail from Nantucket in 1819, but nearly a year later, in the South Pacific whaling grounds, she was sunk by a gigantic, angry sperm whale. Chalk it up to revenge. Thousands of miles from significant civilization, the crew climbed into their three, inadequately supplied small boats. They managed to make their way to uninhabited Henderson Island, more or less in the vicinity of the Bounty mutineers' Pitcairn Island, a month later. For a week, they consumed available plants and animals and drank from a small fresh water source. However, with the island unable to sustain them much longer, 18 of the men set out to sea again, while three remained on Henderson. Their story is one of unimaginable suffering - starvation, madness, and finally, cannibalism, one group drawing lots to determine who would be food for the others. There is a more extensive, better-known account of this horror told by one of the survivors who set off from Henderson, Owen Chase. This shorter account, published in 1824, came from Thomas Chappel, one of the three who remained behind on Henderson. They, too, suffered near starvation, but were saved after the other survivors told their rescuers of their location. This incident became the inspiration for Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Priced at $1,950.

Item 21 is another book that likely inspired Melville. It is Etchings of a Whaling Cruise, with notes of a Sojourn on the island of Zanzibar, by J. Ross Browne. This is one of the best accounts of American whaling in the Pacific in the 1840s. It was reviewed in Literary World in the year following publication (1846) by Melville, whose whaling story, Moby Dick, was published in 1850. $1,250.

Item 45 pertains to a very different sort of nautical mission. It is an 1812 privateer's commission, signed by both President James Madison and the future President, Secretary of State James Monroe. The commission authorizes the armed, private schooner Rosie, operated by 35 men, "...to subdue, seize and take any armed or unarmed British vessel, public or private..." This was in effect legalized piracy, but the United States, having a weak navy to defend itself during the War of 1812, was forced to resort to this incentive-based nautical behavior to counteract superior British naval strength. $4,250.

Item 62 memorializes a very sad day in early U.S. history. The December 26, 1799, issue of Providence, Rhode Island's, United States Chronicle pronounces, "Washington is no more!" Washington had died on December 15, but in pre-electronic communications days, news traveled slowly. It includes an account of Washington's last hours from his private secretary, and tributes from President Adams and members of Congress. The paper is bordered in black. $6,000.

Item 69 is a very odd work: The Aeropleustic Art, or Navigation by the Use of Kites, or Bouyant Sails. George Pocock, the author of this 1827 treatise, believed kites could be used as auxiliary sales for ships. More interesting was his "Char-volant," a carriage powered by a kite. According to Pocock, it could run at 20 miles an hour, a speed so great it "could almost prevent breathing," except, of course, his pre-car traveled with the wind, so it felt calm. One can only guess what happened if one wanted to travel in the other direction. Perhaps this explains why it never caught on. Nevertheless, in an era of fuel shortages it sounds like a good idea, once a few adjustments are made. $7,500.

Kevin F. Kelly, Bookseller, may be reached at 646-895-9858 or books@kevinkellybookseller.com. The website is www.kevinkellybookseller.com.

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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000

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