Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2010 Issue

Travel, Science and History from Helen R. Kahn

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All types of explorations are found in Helen Kahn's latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

Helen R. Kahn and Associates has released their 78th catalogue, Voyages & Travels, History & Natural History, Science & Technology. This is a catalogue filled with books about explorations, be they geographical, scientific or other, mostly antiquarian, though some being of a more recent vintage. The areas visited are as large as the world, and the languages employed varied, including English, French, Latin, German, and others of European origin. Now, we will look at a few of the books offered.

We start with what is described as an "exceptionally fine" copy of the account of one of the most exciting, and ultimately mysterious of voyages. Shortly after the time of Cook, the French navigator Jean-Francois de la Perouse set out on one the longest of travels. He left France in 1785 with two ships, on a mission to survey the various lands of the Pacific and to find a Northwest Passage from the west. He would travel to the Northwest coast of America, unsuccessfully seek the Northwest Passage from Alaska, come back to Hawaii, then to China, the Philippines, Korea, Japan, and western Russia. From there, he sent his journals back home over land. Then it was on to the Samoan Islands and Australia, where he put in to Botany Bay on January 25, 1788. He sent his most recent notes back home again and headed east. He was never heard from again. Despite missions sent to locate him, the fate of La Perouse and his men remained a mystery for 40 years. Finally, another explorer found remains of his ships that had been wrecked in the reefs off of Vanikoro. Fortunately, we have an account of all but his last days as La Perouse sent his journals back home ahead of him. Item 45 is a first edition of the Voyage de La Perouse Autour du Monde... a four-volume large paper first edition with the atlas, published in 1797. Priced at $35,000.

Pierre-Francois Charlevoix was another French explorer, though his primary occupation was that of a Jesuit missionary. Charlevoix came to New France (now known as the United States and Canada) in 1705 and again in 1720. He would travel around the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi River, all the time observing and taking down accounts of the Indian tribes he met and settlements he visited. He also attempted to learn from them whether there was a route to the Pacific, though that would have to wait until the end of the century and Mackenzie's journey across Canada. Item 15 is a 1744 first edition of the three-volume Histoire et Description Generale de la Nouvelle France... by Charlevoix. $17,500.

Not all adventures are terribly pleasant, as Robert Adams can attest. Adams was a sailor from Hudson, New York, who sailed out of Gibralter on the not-so good ship Charles in 1810. It was washed ashore by dangerous currents along the coast of North Africa. The captain was killed while the crew was made slaves. Adams was taken eastward and passed along to various masters. At one point, he became only the second or third westerner to visit the mysterious city of Timbuctoo. Eventually, he was ransomed by a British consul in Morocco, and returned to London where he wrote this book: The Narrative of Robert Adams, A Sailor, who was wrecked on the western coast of Africa, in the year 1810, was detained three years in slavery by Arabs of the Great Desert... published in 1816. Item 1. $1,700.

Item 42 is Alaska and the Polar Regions. Lecture of Gen. Thomas L. Kane before the American Geographical Society...May 7, 1868. Kane was a remarkable man, and this interest in the newly purchased territory of Alaska is just a sidelight to his career. It was likely spurred on by the career of his brother, Elisha Kane, who served on two of the unsuccessful expeditions attempting to find the lost Arctic explorer John Franklin. Kane was an active abolitionist who rose to the rank of General during the Civil War. He suffered several battlefield wounds and illnesses that finally forced him from active duty after Gettysburg. However, where Kane is best remembered is Utah, as he was probably the greatest outsider friend ever of the Mormons. He frequently defended them against a hostile government, assisted in their migration west, helped form the Mormon battalion during the Mexican War, worked to defuse tensions during the Utah War between the government and Mormon settlers, and served as a personal attorney and good friend of Brigham Young. $400.

Helen R. Kahn and Associates may be reached at 514-844-5344 or hrk@hrkahnbooks.com. The website is www.hrkahnbooks.com.

You will find many of Helen R. Kahn's books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

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.

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