Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2010 Issue

Adventures in the Polar Regions from Aquila Books

Aquila209

On to the poles with Aquila Books.


By Michael Stillman

Aquila Books, the specialist in books about the Arctic, Antarctic, and other regions far to the north or south, has issued their Catalogue 209. It is filled with accounts of explorations of the most inhospitable regions on Earth. How anyone could take on such extreme dangers and discomfort, some spending years at a time in these bitter regions, is hard to fathom, but they did. Here are some of their amazing stories.

We will start with one of the great stories of polar adventure. It is the account of the Amundsen expedition to the South Pole. Norwegian Roald Amundsen hoped to be the first to reach the North Pole, but after Cook and Peary's claims (disputed) to having reached that pole, he set his sights on the other one. This would result in a conflict, as Englishman Robert Falcon Scott already planned such an expedition. The race was on. Amundsen and his men gathered up their supplies, dogs, and sledges, and headed for the South Pole. The Norwegian was already well versed in the habits of those who lived in the far northern climates. Scott relied more on his own ingenuity and brute strength, men dragging their loads behind them. Amundsen proved to be the more realistic. He made his journey with amazing speed and lack of difficulties considering the nature of his trip. He reached the pole first. Scott finally made it a month later, and he and his men died in the storms on the way back. Item 2 is the first English language account of Amundsen's journey, The South Pole. An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the "Fram," 1910-1912. Item 3 is the first Norwegian edition of the same work, Sydpolen... Each was published in 1912 and each is priced at $9,500.

Amundsen cancelled plans to travel to the North Pole as others had already been there, or so he thought. Cook's claim was discounted by most observers years ago, but Peary's claim has come under great scrutiny in the past few decades as well. Some observers believe his claim to be inaccurate too. Perhaps if Amundsen had been aware that challenges would arise, he would have attempted to go north, but he was not aware that controversy would in time arise. So, who then was the first if Peary and Cook's claims are not correct? The first verifiable claim to have reached the North Pole by land (or ice) belongs to Wally Herbert and the British Trans-Arctic team, which made it to the pole in 1969. They departed Barrow, Alaska, early in 1968, wintered over on the Arctic ice, and made it to the North Pole on April 6, 1969. From there they continued on toward Europe, ending their journey on Spitsbergen Island, Norway. Item 46 is his account, published in 1969, Across the Top of the World. The British Trans-Arctic Expedition. $75.

Item 77 is an advertising brochure for a German film set in cold northern climes, S.O.S. Eisberg (iceberg). It is chilling for more reasons than one. Pictured on the cover of this circa 1933 brochure is film star Leni Riefenstahl. Ms. Riefenstahl was at the time transitioning from actress to film director. Her technical skills were exceptional, but her moral compass lacking. She became enamored with Hitler and his associates and went on to make propaganda films for the Nazis, later denying they were really Nazi propaganda. She spent the rest of her life pretending she really didn't know what the Nazis were doing and that she was nonpolitical, despite tons of written and photographic evidence to the contrary. The result was a lot of protesting as she lived until 2003, dying at the age of 101. $150.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

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