• <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> NASA archive with 351 photographs, silver & chromogenic prints, 1960-2002. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Edward S. Curtis, suite of 18 cyanotypes, 1910-14. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Edward S. Curtis, <i>Horse Capture, Atsina,</i> unique copper plate for <i>The North American Indian,</i> 1908. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> John Whipple, <i>Harriet Beecher Stowe,</i> salted print from a calotype negative, 1853. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Lewis Carroll, <i>Xie Kitchen,</i> albumen print, circa 1872. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Ansel Adams, <i>Taos Pueblo,</i> limited, signed first edition of the artist's first book, 12 silver bromide prints, 1930. $30,000 to $45,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b><br>JFK in his motorcade about 2 mins before his assassination, chromogenic print, 1963. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Anton Guilio Bragaglia, 6 photomechanical postcards with facsimile signatures, 1911-13, printed 1932. $30,000 to $45,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Société Anonyme, Inc, group of 9 postcards, including 8 real photo postcards, 1920-30. $25,000 to $35,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Albert Einstein A remarkable letter on God in English, one of his most eloquent and quoted, 1 p, July 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Benjamin Lincoln's commission as Major General in the Continental Army, February 19th, 1777. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Broadside. A Poem Upon the Bloody Engagement That Was Fought on Bunker's-Hill. 1775. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Early, full printing of the Star-Spangled Banner in The Yankee, October 7, 1814. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Paul Revere. Engraving, “The Boston Massacre Perpetrated on March 5, 1770," in <i>Massachusett's Calendar 1772.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth, "a St Mary's schoolboy," Baltimore, April 4, 1914. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Franklin, Benjamin. <i>The Independent Whig.</i> First Magazine Published in America, Philadelphia: Keimer, 1723-4. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Smith, Joseph. <i>The Book of Mormon.</i> Palmyra: Printed by E.B. Grandin for the Author, 1830. First printing. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Last Words of Joseph Smith. Autograph Letter Signed from a Mormon disciple, conveying a contemporary account of the Prophet's final words, Nauvoo, July 27, 1844. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> John Brown's Body. Autograph Letter Signed from the daughter of John Brown attempting to arrange the return of her father's body, North Elba, Essex Co, NY, November 29, 1859. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Powell Expedition. Autograph diary of Rhodes C. Allen kept during the Powell Expedition of 1868, June 29, 1868 - November 16, 1868. $20,000 to $40,000
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Autographs & Memorabilia. February 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Autograph album featuring signatures by prominent actors, politicians, musicians and authors, including Rudolph Valentino. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> An extremely rare working radio script for Crazy People No 29, the first series of <i>The Goon Show.</i> £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Manuscript prayer book, in German. 8vo, 1755 £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Italian Manuscript on Geometry, with diagrams, 18th century. £500 to £700
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Thorburn (Archibald). Sparrowhawk, original watercolour & gouache, signed & dated lower right, 1917. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Burton (Sir Richard Francis). <i>Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.</i> 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, 1855-56. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> [Mount (Richard) & Page (Thomas)]. <i>The English Pilot. Describing the Sea-Coasts…</i> 31 engraved maps, W. & J. Mount, T. Page, 1756 £4000 to £6000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> D’apres De Mannevillette (Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis). <i>Le Neptune Oriental.</i> Paris & Brest, [1775 – 1781]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Loring (Josiah). Terrestrial Globe Containing all the Late Discoveries and Geographical Improvements. Boston, Gilman Joslin, 1846, £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Shelley (G. E., Capt.). <i>A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sun-birds,</i> FIRST EDITION, by the Author, 1876-80. £4,000 to £6,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2017 Issue

Raveneau de Lussan… and a bottle of rum!

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Twenty severed heads, on a buccaneer's bark, yo-oh-oh! Welcome to the merciless world of the buccaneers* (or flibustiers), those terrible people who swarmed the Spanish Americas in the second half of the 17th century. Raveneau de Lussan's Journal du Voyage Fait à la Mer de Sud avec les Flibustiers de l'Amérique en 1684... (Coignard, 1689) is arguably the best account of its kind after Esquemeling's. Smells of blood, sweat and tears arise from the pages of the first edition published a few months after the events. Get on board, mate – but be prepared! It ain't no fairy tale.

 

Let's make it clear, Esquemeling's Bucaniers of America (Jan ten Hoorn, 1678, for the very first edition in Dutch/Crook, 1684, for the first English edition), which describes the “exploits” of the first generation of those bold West-Indian warriors, is the best book about buccaneering ever. The buccaneers were the terror of the Spaniards in America, who feared them beyond reason. Their reputation crossed the ocean, and attracted legions of villains from all over the Old World. Raveneau de Lussan was, on the contrary, from an “honest family”, and nothing forced him to turn buccaneer: “I couldn't explain my deep inclination,” he confesses, “except that I have always been fond of traveling. (…) With this, I had what I dare not call a martial mind, but let's say the burning desire to partake in some battle or siege. As soon as I heard the beating of the drums in the streets (of Paris), I was carried away with such strength that I'm still transported with joy and excitement at the simple memory of it.” He first joined the army, and then embarked for America in 1679, aged roughly 16. “My parents spared nothing their tenderness for their unruly son dictated them, but they were unable to make me change my mind.” The first 3 years he spent in Saint Domingue (Haiti) left him with so many debts that he decided to borrow some money from the Spaniards. “What's convenient with those particular loans,” he says, “is that no one expects you to repay them.” In 1684, our man joined the famous French buccaneer Laurent de Graff and left Petit Goâve, Saint Domingue (Haiti), on November 22 - “one of the happiest days of my life!

 

In March 1685, he walked across the Isthmus of Panama with 263 buccaneers to raid Panama, located on the shore of the South Sea (or Pacific Ocean). The Jamaican buccaneer Henry Morgan had already led a successful expedition across the Isthmus some twenty years earlier. Before that, the Spanish settlements on the West coast of the continent had been spared by the buccaneers, mainly because they were remote and difficult of access. As a result, the Spaniards from this region hardly fortified their rich cities, and were almost unable to sustain a battle. Thus, although they usually outnumbered their assailants by far, they were regularly defeated. They tried to defend themselves, even hiring the skills of mercenaries from various nations to assist them – they were called “the Greeks” - but their main strategy consisted in running away with their riches as soon as they sighted a buccaneer. As Raveneau puts it, “our safety lied as much in our boldness than in their cowardice.

 

A modern critic wrote that had this account been less confused, it would have been a very good adventure novel. But it is much more than that! Reading it is like entering a dog-eat-dog world full of villains, gold and blood. Long ago, the “pirates” had their “fun” in the burning sun, indeed. And Raveneau de Lussan's relation is genuine, as testified by the letters of recommendation from the French Governor of Saint Domingue added to his relation. His journal was first published in 1689 by Jean-Baptiste Coignard**, known for putting out quality books. In 2015, Christie's sold a copy of the first edition bound in full morocco and featuring the arms of Louis XIV for more than 16,000 pounds. But this an exceptional price for an exceptional copy. A common, and very nice copy of the first edition, can usually be found between 1,500 and 1,800 euros

 

The second edition - though the third one of 1693 (Coignard's widow and son) reads “second edition” -, published as soon as 1690 by the same Coignard, is worth a few hundred euros less. It is a small in-12 volume printed on thick paper with small but quite readable fonts − Elsevier style. Upon opening it, the smell of powder rushes your nostrils! Raveneau de Lussan takes you to the very heart of the action. Plundering, torturing to death, murdering, kidnapping or beheading, everything is here exposed (except rape, which was apparently forbidden by common agreement before each expedition, but this particular point is suspicious, isn't it?). Upset by the Spaniards who fired poisoned bullets at them, the buccaneers killed twenty prisoners and then sent their severed heads to the President of Panama on a bark. “A somewhat violent expedient, I must say,” Raveneau confesses, “but the only way to bring the President to a better state of mind.” It is, indeed, always difficult to discuss with an unreasonable man.

 

The buccaneers saw themselves as legitimate soldiers, since they acted on commissions – as a matter of fact, Raveneau's relation was published by Coignard, “ordinary printer for the King”, with due “privilege of His Majesty”, and dedicated to Secretary of State Marquis de Seignelay. It was obviously no shame to be associated with such a book. The buccaneers were good Catholics, too – they chanted the Te Deum on the bodies of their victims, and the French ones always fought the English ones whenever the latter disrespected Catholic symbols while looting a city. Yet, they led a bizarre kind of war. Crossing back the Isthmus in 1688, Raveneau rages against the mosquitoes that filled the air: “You can feel them rather than see them, and their poisoned darts are like fiery stings (…). Enduring their harassment is an ordeal (…). We grew desperate under their attacks, and they literally drove us out of our senses with rage.” A Spaniard could have said just the same about the buccaneers!

 

These restless and swarming enemies were elusive, and although in want for everything – they mended the sails of their miserable embarkations with their own shirts –, they were tireless and ever motivated. The caimans, the snakes, the burning sun, hunger or thirst – nothing could discourage them. The Spaniards feared them because, as Raveneau says, “they would risk everything to gain almost nothing”. They were thoughtless people, too; many survived several years of want and war, only to leave the South Sea with empty pockets after they had lost their ill-gotten booty on gambling! When the weary troops decided to go back to the North Sea (or Atlantic Ocean), Raveneau realized that all the money he had thus earned was now a threat to his life: “Those who had lost their share by gambling plotted to murder those among us who had won the most.” He then entrusted a large part of his booty to other buccaneers, who agreed to carry it across the Isthmus providing that they would keep half their charge on arrival. “Quite a high price to pay,” he says. “But what won't we do to keep death away?” He was right to be careful. A buccaneer, especially a broke one, was a wolf to a buccaneer.

 

The buccaneers usually abode by some rules known as “chasse-parties”, or preliminary agreements, that notably defined the conditions of compensation for the future wounded fighters. After several months spent fighting in the Bay of Panama, “there were fourteen maimed persons, and six badly injured. We gave six hundred pieces of eight to each of the latter, and a thousand to the others, as we had always done. All the money we had so far gained was thus spent on these compensations.” But “brotherhood” had its limits. To go back to the North Sea, the buccaneers walked to the Yara river and descended it on makeshift rafts made of two or three tree trunks tied together with creepers. Some drowned in the rapids, others were ambushed by their own folks: the aforementioned broke buccaneers. “Those villains had sailed before us, and they hid behind some rocks on the bank, knowing that we all had to pass them. (…) They waited for five English men, known to be the richest among us, and slaughtered them, and stripped them of everything. (…) With a friend, we found their bodies lying on the river bank.

 

Though they kept on boasting about their skills and their many victories, many buccaneers suffered post traumatic stress. Back to Saint Domingue among their French peers, some were still at war in their heads. “Some of us had been so mentally disturbed and weakened by all the miseries we had endured, that their heads were full of Spaniards; in so much that, seeing riders on the shore from the desk of our boat, they would run to their rifles and fire at them, identifying them with enemies although we told them that they were friends!” At the time, personal feelings weren't as exposed as they are today. But a few words are sometimes more meaningful than a thousand ones; especially when they are the last ones of an account: “As for myself, I had been so convinced that I would never return, that I spent fifteen days thinking I was living an illusion; to such an extent that I refused to sleep, fearing that I might wake up in the middle of the countries I had left.” Adventure novels? Sissy stuff, mate!

 

(c) Thibault Ehrengardt

 

 

* The English term “buccaneer” comes from the French “Boucaniers”, who were cooking meat according to the West Indians tradition of smoking it on a “boucan” - sort of barbecue. They were, at first, illegal colonists, who lived in small groups in the “savannas” (or plains) of St. Domingue, far from all social life. The Spaniards, who were the only legitimate owners of these lands since Columbus had discovered them in the name of the Queen of Spain, decided to chase them away by slaughtering all the savage cows they fed upon. Some of them then jumped on small boats to attack the Spaniards and became the “Flibustiers” - or “free-booters”, a word deriving from Dutch. Very soon, they became dreadful warriors used by the colonies such as St. Domingue or Jamaica (where they kept the name of “buccaneers”) to act as soldiers during conflicts. The Governors issued “commissions”, which gave them permission to attack the enemies of the colony and differentiated them from pirates. In Jamaica, they became so important that their most infamous leader, Henry Morgan, was eventually appointed Governor of the island.

 

** His beautiful family mansion in Nogent-sur-Marne, in the suburbs of Paris, was once a dull and dark police station. It has recently been rehabilitated and is now a cultural center.

 

*** In France, Raveneau de Lussan's account was separately published several times: in 1689 and 1690 by Coignard; in 1693 (by Coignard's widow and son); and then by Lefebvre in 1705. Afterwards, it became part of the famous collective edition in 4 volumes about buccaneering (Trevoux, 1744), which also contains Esquemling's Bucaniers of America and A General History of the Pyrates.

Rare Book Monthly

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    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b><br>The Architecture Of M. Vitruvius Pollio. London, 1791.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Estatuto Provisional del Imperio Mexicano. México: Imprenta de Andrade y Escalante, 1865.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Historia de Méjico... México, 1849 - 1852.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Juárez, Benito - Ogazón, Pedro. Legajos de Bandos del Estado de Guadalajara, 1860-1863.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Sigüenza y Góngora, Carlos. Mapa de las Aguas que por el Círculo de 90 Leguas Vienen a la Laguna de Tescuco... Méx, 1748.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Cruces y Campa / Aubert / Valleto. Pareja Imperial, Fusilamiento de Maximiliano, Tipos Mexicanos... ca,1875.
  • <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> BELON. <i>L’Histoire de la nature des oyseaux.</i> Paris : Corrozet, 1555. $17,000 to $23,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> MIOMANDRE – BARBIER. <i>Dessins sur les danses de Vaslav Nijinsky.</i> Paris. 1913. $23,000 to $34,000
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    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> EDWARDS. <i> <br>A Natural History of Uncommon Birds…</i> London : Printed for the Author. 1743-1764. $35,000 to $46,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> VESALIUS. <i><br> De Humane Corporis Fabrica libri septem...</i> Basle : J. Oporinus. 1555. $58,000 to $80,000

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