• <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>Winter in der Schweiz,</i> 1921. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Evelyn Rumsey Carey, <i>Pan American Exposition / Niagara / Buffalo,</i> 1901. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Arnost Hofbauer, <i>Topicuv Salon,</i> 1898. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Job,</i> 1896. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Georges de Feure, <i>Le Journal des Ventes,</i> 1898. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Cycles Perfecta,</i> 1897. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Edward Penfield, <i>Orient Cycles / Lead the Leaders,</i> circa 1895. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Adrien Barrère, <i>L’Ideal du Touriste,</i> 1903. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Willem Frederick Ten Broek, <i>New York / Wereldtentoonselling / Holland – Amerika Lijn,</i> 1938. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Dwight Clark Shepler, <i>Sun Valley / Union Pacific.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Sascha Maurer, <i>Flexible Flyer Splitkein / Smuggler’s Notch,</i> circa 1935. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Louis Bonhajo, <i>Vote / League of Women Voters,</i> 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>January 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Byblia in vulgar ultimamente impressa,</i> illustrated, folio, Lazaro de Soardi & Bernardino Benali, Venice,1517. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Milio (Agostino). <i>Nuovo dialogo delle devozioni del sacro monte della Verna,</i> FIRST and ONLY EDITION, illustrated, 4to, Stamperia Ducale, Florence, 1568. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses,</i> First English edition, NUMBER 23 OF 2000 COPIES, , 4to, Egoist Press, Paris, 1922. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Dumas (Marlene). <i>Doornrosie,</i> lithograph printed in colours, signed, 370 x 440 mm, 1989. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Japanese Culture.- Kimbei (Kusakabe). Two albums of hand tinted albumen prints, each with 50 photos, each photo c.140 x 95mm, [late 19th century]. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Miró (Joan) ARR. <i>Personnages sur Fond Noir,</i> NUMBER 38 OF 75 COPIES, lithograph, signed and dated, 305 x 445mm, 1948. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Ray (Man). Autoportrait, photolithograph, initialled and inscribed by artist, ONE of 100 COPIES, 200 x 160mm, 1972. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Wou-Ki (Zao). L'tang / The Pond, etching aquatint, number 2 of 3 only, signed by artist, 260 x 230 mm, Paris, Editions Galanis, 1972. £800 to £1,200.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Autographs & Memorabilia<br>January 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> De Amicis (Edmondo). Postcards signed by Italian author and journalist Edmondo De Amicis, February 1897- August 1907. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Live Aid.- Live Aid 1985 souvenir programme, signed by Bob Geldof, Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Freddie Mercury, and others, 1985-1991. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> 1944 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. Black and white, landscape photograph ft. all the Heads of Government of the British Commonwealth who attended the 1944 Prime Ministers' Conference in London, signed by all.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Walt Disney Production.- Dopey, original animation cel from Snow White approx. 180 x 180mm., Walt Disney Enterprises, 1937. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Liszt (Franz). Carte-de-visite photograph by J.Ganz of Brussels of Franz Liszt, signed, 10 x 6.4cm, c. 1880. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Fermi (Enrico). Autograph letter signed to Professor Tullio Levi Civita, 8vo, Florence, 9 May 1925; w/an autograph note from Professor Civita, 7 March 1934 (2). £1,800 to £2,200.
  • <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> London, 1859. First Edition. Letter Addressed to Dr. Ogle and Envelope Signed by Charles Darwin. $278,000 to $333,000.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Ortelij, Abrahami. <i>Epitome Theatri Orbis Terrarum.</i> Antuerpiae: Exstat in Officina Plantinian, 1612. Rare Edition. $5,560 to $6,670.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> González de Mendoza, Juan. <i>Histoire du Grand Royaume de la Chine, Situé Aux Indes Orientales.</i> [Genève]: 1606. $1,670 to $2,230.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Chapman, Conrad Wise. <i>Landscape of the Valley of Mexico.</i> Oil on wood. Signed and dated. $26,120 to $30,560.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Thesaurus Exorcismorum...</i> Coloniae, 1608. Collection of Six Works of the Most Important Franciscan Exorcists of the 16th Century. $1,670 to $2,230.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Saggio delle Transazioni Filosofiche della Società Regia.</i> Napoli, 1729-1734. With a Map of California by Eusebio Kino. $1,120 to $1,440.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Scherer, Heinrich. <i>Delineatio Nova et Vera Partis Australis Novi Mexici, cum Australi Parte Insulae Californiae...</i> Münich, ca. 1700. $850 to $1,120.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Santacilia, Jorge Juan-Ulloa, Antonio de. <i>A Voyage to South America. Describing at Large, the Spanish Cities...</i> London, 1760. $890 to $1,120.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Limborch, Philippi. <i>Historia Inquisitionis Cui Subjungitur Liber Sententiarum Inquisitionis Tholosanae...</i> Amsterdam, 1692. $1,340 to $1,670.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Castro, C. - Campillo, J. - Cumplido, I. - Lauda, L. - Rodríguez G. <i>Mexico and Its Surroundings.</i> Méx, 1855-56. $5,000 to $5,560.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Medical Gazette. Periodical of the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico...</i> México, 1864 - 1943. Pieces: 169. $1,340 to $1,560.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2017 Issue

Isert: A Voyage Through Slavery

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Why do we read travel books instead of travelling ourselves? Well, only an old book like Paul Erdman Isert’s Voyages en Guinée & dans les îles Caraibes en Amérique (Maradan, 1793) will take you to the West coast of Africa in... the 1780s! Right in the middle of the slave trade. And that’s what his book will do—carry you away.

 

We know about the role played by the English, the Dutch or the French in the slave trade—but what about the Danish? They had a few forts in what was then called Guinea (today’s Ghana), Africa, at the time our author went there—Denmark was then the fifth most active nation in the trade. Paul Erdman Isert was a Danish Buffon, so to speak—a botanist. And the African tribes he met fascinated him. “Some of my readers might wonder, with irony: “Why telling us about the customs and stupid beliefs of those savages and barbarians?” I shall answer them with Raynal, that every historian should consider his holy duty to preserve the customs and the lifestyle of these savage people.” The progressive ideas of the abolitionist societies were, in the late 1700s, gaining ground in Europe; yet Isert’s statement remains unusual for the time. In fact, he obviously fell in love with Africa—the land, of course; but also the people. As a matter of fact, he focused on the “natural history of man”. And what makes his book especially interesting—and moving—is the fact that he did not go back straight to Denmark—he embarked on a slave ship bound to the West Indies before, thus giving a testimony of the two main aspects of the triangular trade.

 

Isert’s book is made up of a series of letters sent to some friend in Denmark, and written from 1783 to July 1787. He left Copenhagen, Denmark, in November and reached Fort Christiansburg (in today’s Ghana), sixteen weeks later. “Oh my God! What a difference with the land I had left!” He was soon dispatched to Fort Ada on the Volta River. And everything attracted his attention, from the customs of the African tribes to their clothes to the new plants he came across. While caught in the heat of a bloody and scorching battle (“the most terrible day in my life,” he writes), he still remained a naturalist at heart, finding time to “botanize” in a nearby morass.” A footnote reads: “At this occasion, I found a sort of wetlands snail, which I sent to some friends in Copenhagen.” These intellectuals from the 18th century were just incredible.

 

Isert quoting the French philosopher—and abolitionist—Raynal in his forewords says it all. Yet, he didn’t seem to be that outraged at the slave trade while in Africa, where it seemed to be a part of everyday life. Some Africans sold themselves to pay their debts of game; others were captured at war, and sold according to their “value”. Isert gives details about the price of a slave, which sadly reminds us of the old books business: “When a Negro shows no defect, you can not bargain; but if he misses a tooth, for example, you get a discount of 2 risdallers. If he misses greater parts like an eye, a finger or any other limb, you get a greater discount.” The slave trade was very lucrative, but slaves were expensive. For a healthy male, one would give five gunshots, eighty pounds of powder, two silver bars, a portion of brandy, four dozens of small knives, two pewter dishes, a piece of Indian clothes with flowers, ten handkerchiefs from India, a brass basin, three copper bars, and two lead bars—for a total amount of 160 risdallers (a European soldier in Africa, later states Isert, earned 10 risdallers a month). Far from the stereotype of the ignorant African merchant ripped off by some cunning white folks, Isert says the Negroes were very good businessmen—though, he adds, they usually refused to work more than what was necessary to keep them at ease. He even talks about one Lathe, “the richest Negro of the country”, who spoke three foreign languages, including Danish, and who had sent one of his sons to England and the other one to Portugal for business’ sake!

 

Slavery haunts the pages of this book, like a contagious disease. But not only before 1786—when Isert left Africa on board of a slave ship bound to the West Indies—, does it reveal its true ugliness. After a dreadful voyage that almost cost him his life under the vengeful hands of the rebellious slaves, Isert reached the West Indies where he witnessed the harsh reality of slavery. “Exhausted, beaten and ill-fed (...), the slaves are exploited to such an extent that you hardly recognize them. How many times have I said to myself, contemplating the broken faces of these half-dead men, Ô! Consider what you once were, and what you are now!

 

The condition of slaves in the West Indies was terrible—“a Negro is always wrong. Any white man can, at any time, beat him sorely—and he does not even have the right to defend himself. If he does, he is unerringly put to death.” Isert seemed to come to his senses at this occasion—this was the true face of the “trade”. “Those who stand for slavery will tell you: “We have some Niggers here who answer “NO!” when asked if they want to go back to Africa.” I have nothing to tell these gentlemen but to go to Africa if they really want to be cured from all their prejudice. There they will witness the innocence, the simplicity and the sincerity of these men.”

 

Discussing about the origins and the skin colour of the Africans—which he intelligently linked to the effect of the sun—, Isert makes it clear that he did not consider them as inferior: “Don’t you ever tell me about a so-called mixed race of men and monkeys! This you could say, should you be able to prove that the Negroes are deprived of intelligence, but they miss nothing on this side, to equal the Europeans as soon as they shall have access to the same culture.” Yet he thought, like many of his contemporaries, that slavery was an incurable evil. “Should we stop eating sugar, drinking coffee and all these things which have now become essential to us in Europe? Of course not, that would make as many miserable men.” The mistake had been done, and it was too late. The Europeans, he says, should have exploited Africa, its fertile soil, its numerous and cheap labour supply; “but the conquest of America was too flattering a project!” he regrets. “Africa appeared so vast, so populated—and its people more willing and ready to defend themselves. It was easier to slaughter the weak Indians and to replace them by slaves. And no one opposed this evil plan, which still remains unpunished!” Despite this dark surrounding, Isert still found time to “botanize” in the French West Indian islands before heading back to Europe. The intellectuals from the 18th century...

 

Isert’s voyage is a thrilling read, and quite valuable a book, as it gives a genuine insight into the slave trade from both the African and the West Indian perspectives. It is an in-octavo volume, and it comes with two engravings, including a folding one, and some meteorological observations—which are quite tedious. It is rare. It popped up only once on eBay.fr over the past 10 years, and only a handful of copies are for sale on the main research sites. A nice copy is worth around 1,000 euros if you buy it from a professional bookseller. In The Danish Slave Trade and Its Abolition, E.Gobel states: “Isert's descriptions of African societies, of the Europeans in Africa, and of slavery and the slave trade were authentic and detailed.” But it is also a genuine and very human piece of work, written during a very inhuman period.

 

T. Ehrengardt

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Abraham Lincoln Endorsement Signed, March 16, 1865. Framed with a lithograph of Lincoln by Dwight C. Sturges.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Thomas Edison Stunning Signed Portrait.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Franz Liszt Signed Photo.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Subscription for Portraits of the Presidents Signed by J. Q. Adams, Polk, Jackson, Buchanan, and Writers Dickens, Bryant and More!
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Vinson Supreme Court Signed Presentation Photo.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Collection of Three Financial Items.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Rare Sigmund Freud ALS Related to Sexual Issues.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> New York Yankees team signed baseball c.1937 including Gehrig, DiMaggio, Dickey, Gomez and others.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Salvador Dali Original Drawing in <i>Dali</i> by David Larkin.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Charles Wilson Peale, Association Miniature of Dr. Ebenezer Crosby after Charles Willson Peale. Gouache on ivory miniature attributed to Peale.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> William McKinley Signed Oversize Photograph Incredible 20"x24".
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Margaret Mitchell Signed <i>Gone With The Wind</i> -- First Edition.
  • <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Signed Abraham Lincoln Civil War era document appointing Green Clay of Kentucky as Secretary of the Legation of the United States at St. Petersburg, Russia, July 15, 1861. $3,000 to $3,500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Original Bambi (1942) animation cel, inscribed Walt Disney's Bambi and signed Walt Disney. $3,000 to $3,500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Original Snow White animation cel, with Walt Disney signature on mat, lower right. $3,000 to $3,500.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Civil Rights Era Archive relating to U.S. Deputy Marshal Dick Bagby (1933-2003) of Dallas, TX, including letters from President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, U.S. Attorney General. $1,400 to $1,800.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> President Andrew Jackson autograph letter, unsigned, regarding a special presentation cane sent via General John Moore McCalla to Gov. George Breathitt of Kentucky. January 18th, 1833. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Four (4) Presidential signed 17th/18th Century Books - two signed by Millard Fillmore, and two signed by James Buchanan. $1,000 to $1,200.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> President Andrew Jackson signed military commission document conferring on George Washington McLean the rank of Second Lieutenant of Marines. Signed January 4, 1834. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Three (3) Southern Maps, including two (2) Antonio Zatta 1778, one (1) South Carolina 1796. $600 to $800.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Black Forest German Forestry Apprenticeship Certificate issued to Carl Heshel by Von Fahnenburg, the Forest Master from the Royal District, February 1, 1824. $500 to $550.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Harper Lee, <i>TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD,</i> signed 40th anniversary edition. NY: HarperCollins, 1999. $300 to $350.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Archive of twenty-five (25) items related to the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. $400 to $500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Sixteen (16) 20th Century Celebrity Autographed Books, including Paul Newman, A. E. Hotcher, Leonard Bernstein, Clint Eastwood, Norman Rockwell, Groucho Marx, Johnny Cash, and more. $300 to $350.
  • <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> [Paine, Thomas]. Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America… Philadelphia: R. Bell, 1776. $200,000 to $250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Autograph letter signed, to Joshua Reed Giddings, 21 May 1860. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Oakley, Annie. <i>A Brief Sketch of Her Career and Notes on Shooting.</i> [N.p.]: ca. 1913, Signed. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Washington, George. One autograph letter signed & 3 letters signed to General Alexander McDougall, September 1777. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Mather, Cotton. <i>The Wonders of the Invisible World. Being an account of the tryals of several witches...</i> London: 1693. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> James, Benjamin.<i><br>A Treatise on the Management of the Teeth.</i> Boston, 1814. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <b>Bonhams:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Measure for Measure</i> (extracted from the First Folio). London, 1623. Sold for $52,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $47,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams: </b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. Sold for $43,825.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $1,912.50.
    <b><center>Bonhams<br>Consignments invited (2020)</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. Sold for $150,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. Sold for $15,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. Sold for $175,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. Sold for $131,325.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> BOOLE, GEORGE. <i>An Investigation of the Laws of Thought.</i> London, 1854. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> SHANNON, CLAUDE and WARREN WEAVER. <i>The Mathematical Theory of Communication.</i> Urbana, 1949. Sold for $27,575.

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