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>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.
  • <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
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    <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
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    <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

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