Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2010 Issue

Maritime Books from Ten Pound Island Book Company

Tenpound189

Maritime works from Ten Pound Island Book Company.


By Michael Stillman

Ten Pound Island Book Company has issued its Maritime List 189, Fine & Rare Books, Manuscripts, Ephemera. There isn't much that need be said to describe the type of material found in this catalogue. The word "maritime" says it all both succinctly and well. We note that Ten Pound Island has announced that this will be their final printed catalogue. Changing times have caught up with the medium. Due to increased printing and mailing costs, and the limited presentation possible with print, they will be moving to online catalogues, which allow for more thorough descriptions and the addition of color images for each item. Print presentations in the future will be limited to short title lists. While it is sad to see this traditional method of bookselling fade, and particularly for a seller who has issued 189 catalogues, technology moves forward, and those who don't go with it are likely to be left behind. Here are a few of the items to be found in issue number 189.

Item 53 presents an interesting collection of documents from the privateering vessel Fox after it sailed into Gloucester (Massachusetts) in 1814. This was during the War of 1812, and the U.S. had virtually no navy to combat British dominance of the seas. As a result, the U.S. turned to privateers, independent contractors so to speak, or pirates in the eyes of others, who in return for a portion of the spoils were licensed by the U.S. to attack British shipping. The Fox, under Samuel Handy, brought home a prize to Gloucester, the British ship Byker. Offered are four documents pertaining to the turning over of the Byker, including a landing permit, accounting of the ship's contents, and a report of the prisoners turned over to authorities. Priced at $1,500.

Item 14 is a look at the isolated island where many of the mutineers from the Bounty lived out the remainder of their lives: Pitcairn's Island, and Islanders in 1850, by Walter Brodie. The famed mutiny on the Bounty occurred in 1789, when a group of disgruntled seamen overpowered Captain William Bligh and his men. Bligh and most of those loyal to him were put on a small boat and cast out to sea. Miraculously, they traveled 3,500 miles to find rescue on a Dutch island, and then make it back to London to promote the court martial of the mutineers. Meanwhile, mutiny leader Fletcher Christian and his cohorts returned to Tahiti, where the Bounty had spent several months prior to the mutiny, and after gathering some women and men, set out to find an isolated island where the Royal Navy would not find them. They came upon Pitcairn, scuttled the Bounty, and stayed, undiscovered. The next time a vessel stopped at Pitcairn was 1808, and by then, all but one of the mutineers had died, Christian, reportedly, after a fight in 1793. Brodie's account, published in 1851 (this third edition was published in the same year as the first), tells of the descendants of mutineers and their Tahitian wives, who inhabited Pitcairn at that time, and still do today. It also provides shipping records of the limited number of vessels that had come calling to the island. $350.

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