• <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
  • <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Gideon Welles, <i>Extensive archive of personal and family papers of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy,</i> 1791-1914. Sold September 29 — $281,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Rock Climbers,</i> cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> watercolor, ink and gouache, 1954. Sold December 15 — $37,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Brontë, <i>Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. Edited by Currer Bell,</i> three volumes, first edition, 1847. Sold June 16, 2022 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Geoffrey Chaucer, <i>The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newlye Printed,</i> London, 1542. Sold October 13 — $106,250.
    <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Dorothea Lange, <i>Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age 32),</i> silver print, 1936. Sold October 20 — $305,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> George Washington, Autograph Document Signed, with two manuscript plat maps in holograph, 1751. Sold October 27 — $37,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Winfred Rembert, <i>Winfred Rembert and Class of 1959,</i> dye on carved & tooled leather, 1999. Sold October 6 — $233,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> M.C. Escher, <i>Relativity,</i> lithograph, 1953. Sold November 3 — $81,250.
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Original Film Posters<br>27 January - 10 February 2023</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Vertigo (1958), poster, US. The ultimate poster on this classic Hitchcock title, one of three known examples. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Lawrence of Arabia (1962), roadshow poster, US. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Star Wars (1977), style C poster, printer's proof, US. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> The Navigator/ La Croisiere du Navigator (1924), re-release poster (1931), French. £5,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Bullitt (1968), special test poster, US. £3,000 to £5,000.
  • <center><b>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>including Americana<br>February 16, 2023</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. CHAUCER, Geoffrey. <i>The Works…now newly imprinted.</i> Edited by F.S. Ellis. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896. $100,000 to $125,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [EINSTEIN, Albert (1879–1955)]. –– ORLIK, Emil (1870–1932), artist. Lithograph signed (“Albert Einstein”). N.p., 1928. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel. <i>[The Lord of the Rings trilogy:] The Fellowship of the Ring.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Two Towers.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Return of the King.</i> 1955. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ("Mark Twain") and Charles Dudley WARNER. <i>The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.</i> Hartford and Chicago, 1873. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> LOVECRAFT, Howard Phillips. <i>Beyond the Wall of Sleep.</i> Collected by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1943. $2,000 to $3,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2021 Issue

The Tribulations of Mr. N***, or Travel Through the Slave Trade

B5092c29-f82d-41bc-9093-52650131e21c

On April 1st, 1702, I sailed from Chef de Bois, two miles away from La Rochelle, for Guinea on board a vessel of the King loaded with 50 guns.” That’s the perfect travel book incipit—straight to the heart of the action! Welcome on board an infamous slave ship bound to Africa and then the West Indies. This opening line is taken from Voyages Aux Côtes de Guinée & en Amérique (Amsterdam, 1719), an anonymous and very bizarre relation published far from the King’s censorship.

 

Although this book is listed in Brunet (20041) and Leclerc’s Bibliotheca Americana, its author has never been identified, and he’s only referred to as “Mr. N***” on the title page. Between 1702 and 1712, he went four times to Guinea (Africa), the West Indies and back to Europe as a private slave-trader. His relation is a peculiar patchwork. Facts, varied thoughts and harsh attacks on the “monks”, are here intermingled with descriptions of birds, trees and very precise maritime terms. All of a sudden our author writes: “Now, I’ll entertain you with a tale...” And here we go, reading about a crab grabbing a man’s intimate parts. The dozens of gorgeous engravings are not originals; they are reproduced from Rochefort’s Histoire des Antilles (Rotterdam, 1658). As far as the frontispiece is concerned, it represents an intriguing scene that seems nowhere to be found in the relation. All that made me question the veracity of this relation but some passages are very convincing and particularly interesting since Mr. N***’s freedom of tone is unique.

 

The first and most interesting part of the book regards Africa and the purchase of slaves: “We don’t buy Negroes without checking them out first; we watch them, examine them closely; we watch their heads, we open their mouths to see if there are missing teeth, we ask them to stretch their arms to make sure they are okay, we look at their parts to make sure everything is here, and we make them take a few steps to see if they have strong legs; every defect diminishes the price of a Negroe. (...) A handsome and good one is worth 200 French pounds; a little bit more than half of it for a female.” We know that slaves sometimes revolted and tried to escape as soon as entering the slave ships. Mr. N*** actually witnessed such a poignant uprising: “It happened on a Dutch vessel. Around 5 P.M, the Negroes seized several guns, pistols, swords, iron bars and wooden sticks. They jumped on the Whites who were on board, killing a couple and wounding several others. The uprising lasted for a good hour and a half but eventually the Whites took over—and it was high time, as the ship was about to wreck on the shore since the Negroes had cut off the cables. (...) The next morning, several Negroes were hanged from the foremast where they were left for the full day to teach the other Negroes a lesson.” Yet slaves were valuable, and Mr. N*** knew better than to ill-treat them because “when those animals have some grief, they sit on their butts, stick their chins between their knees, put their hands over their ears and die that way, refusing to eat or drink anything.” Mr. N*** and his associates bought their slaves from different African Kings along the African shore, and he describes a well organized business. “The first two days (In Senegal) were perfect; and we bought around 150 slaves.” Some died on the way to America, of course. And it did affect Mr. N***, of course; but in an unexpected way: “The crew ate a lot of sharks but I didn’t really touch them myself, as I’d noted that those animals usually fed on the dead bodies of the slaves we threw overboard.”

 

During slavery, sexual abuse was permanent but we are only beginning to explore this topic, and at the time, it was never evoked in travel books. But Mr. N*** had no taboo. “Despite all our efforts to prevent such thing, some people will always find a way to satisfy their lewd needs. One strong young sailor make a hole with his knife in the wall separating the males from the females—and that’s how he was able to satisfy his passion.” A female slave who witnessed this “chic choc”, denounced the two “star-crossed lovers”, and the sailor was punished. In the West Indies, many sailors and colonists experienced health problems when drinking too much and “abusing of the female Negroes.” The Monks, whom Mr. N*** hates, were also buying slaves at the market: “They’d always pick up the nicest, and the younger girls, and the best built; they never bought one who was over 30. Those brave men love tender flesh, and they look at them very closely—the front and the behind.” Like Saint Thomas, they probably needed to see before they’d believe.

 

Mr. N*** was clearly a Protestant—printing his book in Holland far from the police of books, he let his hatred for the Catholics run wild. The “monks,” he says, had infected the New World like a plague. “They are full of corruption, swelled with pride, ignorant, sick in their heads and prompt to quarrel (...). They are wolves in sheep clothing, deprived of faith, tenderness, patience and charity. They’ll overthrow everything to satisfy their sordid and shameful thirst for luxury; such are the masters of the Inquisition that they use to maintain and assert their authority.” Talking about the French island of Martinique, he states: “This place would be a Paradise if it weren’t for the monks. There’s no snake there; but it is infested with monks, which is worst. You have the black ones, who resemble crows; the black and white ones, who resemble magpies; the grey ones, and some white and grey like cranes; the first ones are the Jesuits, the next ones the Jacobins, the next ones the Capuchins, and the last ones the Carmelites.” Unfortunately, Mr. N***’s attacks are not always as witty nor as short—some go on for six pages! Cursing the Pope, and his creatures, denouncing the superstitious ceremonies linked to the Saints and various Catholic beliefs, he’s making some points—but grows boring. The last part of the book is a little bit tedious, and it ends up with a seven-page long poem dealing with farts. The point of this last verbal assault might not be as irrelevant as it may appear—but it is one too much.

 

This book that could have been shorter gives unusual information on the slave trade, and what isn’t said is also important—Mr. N*** talks about what seems relevant to him. And although the slaves amuse him, they don’t really interest him—he sees them as goods, nothing more. This is an early relation. 1702 is only a few decades away from the “true” beginning of the trade by the French, but while constantly castigating the “monks” for their lack of morality, Mr. N*** never questions his own activity. How does the old Biblical tale go? Oh yeah: you see the straw in the eye of the monks, but fail to see the beam in your own eye.

 

 

Voyages aux côtes de Guinée et en Amérique, par Mr. N***

Avec Figues. Amsterdam, chez Etienne Roger, 1719

 

Collation: frontispiece, title page, 416 pages, 38 engravings. Sold for 800 euros (before fees) in Brest, France, in November 2003, and for 1.500 euros by Bergé in Paris, France, in 2013.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Thomas Paine ALS Confirming Christmas Eve Attack Likely Based on Anti-Christianity, “The account you heard of a man firing into my house is true.” $24,000 to $35,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> George Washington Gives a Horse and Guns to His Loyal Guard 10 Days Before Resigning as Commander-in-Chief. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> John Hancock ALS, “General Howe is bent on coming here” - Troops, Martha Washington, & 1777 Continental Congress, to Wife Dolly! $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Abraham Lincoln Boldly and Fully Signs Appointment of Consul Who Would Facilitate Bond Sales in Europe Financing Civil War. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> The Rarest of Dual Signed Kennedy Items! 1963 Christmas Card with "Blessed Christmas" Removed at the Last Minute for Kennedy's Jewish Friends. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> George Gershwin Signed Contract for 1st Production of <i>Porgy and Bess,</i> Also Signed by Dubose Heyward & Ira Gershwin, Historic! $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Einstein Signed, “Two years after the fall of the German Goyim” 1st Ed. of <i>Mein Weltbild.</i> $12,000 to $14,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Walt Disney <i>Fantasia</i>-Era Boldly Signed TLS Re: "Special Effects Department," PSA Certified Authentic & With Phil Sears COA. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> 1996-97 Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls Home Game-Worn Jersey Showcasing "Light" Evident Use, MEARS A5. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Wayne Gretzky’s 1994 All-Star Used Game Jersey, Inscribed to Former MLB Player! $4,500 to $5,500.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> <i>The Astronauts</i> Signed by All 7 Mercury Astronauts! $4,000 to $5,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Fabulous Edison, Firestone, Burroughs Signed Journal With 44 Original Photos, Very Rare. $4,000 to $5,000.
  • <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> BLAEU, Joannes and Martinus MARTINI - <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive Novus Atlas. Pars sexta. Novus Altas Sinensis.</i> Amsterdam: Blaeu, 1655. €8.000 to €12.000.
    <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> ORTELIUS, Abraham - <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum.. Nomenclator ptolemaicus.</i> Antwerp: Christopher Plantin, 1579. €10.000 to €15.000.
    <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista - <i>Carceri d'invenzione.</i> [Rome: G.B. Piranesi, second half of the 18th century]. €20.000 to €30.000.
  • <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> [Black Sun Press] Proust, Marcel, 47 Unpublished Letters from Marcel Proust to Walter Berry, Paris: The Black Sun Press, 1930. $400 to $600.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Williams, William Carlos (1883-1963), <i>Spring and All,</i> first edition, Paris: Contact Publishing Co., 1923. $400 to $600.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Washington, George (1732-1799), Autograph Letter Signed. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Poe, Edgar Allan (1809-1849), Autograph Letter Signed. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862), Autograph Manuscript. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> [Paris Commnue], Photograph album. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Fleming, Ian (1908-1964), <i>Casino Royale,</i> first edition, London: Jonathan Cape, 1953. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Audubon, John James and the Rev. John Bachman, <i>The Quadrupeds of North America,</i> New York: V.G. Audubon, 1849, 1851, 1854. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Lewis, C.S. (1898-1963), <i>The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,</i> first edition, London: Geoffrey Bles Ltd, 1952. $600 to $800.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> [Bhagavad Gita] Wilkins, Charles, trans., <i>The Bhagvat-Geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon…,</i> first edition, London: Printed for C. Nourse, 1785. $700 to $1,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, <i>Faust: Eine Tragodie von Goethe,</i> Hammersmith: Printed by T.J. Cobden-Sanderson & Emery Walker at the Doves Press, 1906-1910. $800 to $1,200.

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