Catalogue Review: Reese, Oak Knoll, & Shapero
By Mike Stillman
This month we review book dealer catalogues from William Reese Co., Oak Knoll Books, and Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books.
William Reese Co.’s Catalogue 225, Latin America, will not disappoint readers familiar with Reese’s extremely thorough descriptions. This time Reese directs his attention south of the border. Sometimes we tend to think of “Americana” as pertaining just to the U.S.A., or, maybe, North America. This catalogue reminds us that there’s a whole world of Americana located to the south, and many of its works were already quite old when the Pilgrims first set sail.
For example, Item 115, from Bartholeme de Las Casas, comprises three works printed in 1552 and 1553. Las Casas was a priest who traveled to the new world in 1502, spending most of the next 45 years in Mexico and the Caribbean. Las Casas argued passionately against Spanish mistreatment of the native “Indians.” His writings remain one of the most important sources of early American history as well as an argument for civility from the conquerors of the New World. Too bad the Spanish paid so little attention. $22,500.
There are numerous publications from Europeans and North Americans who write about their travels when much of Latin America was little known to the west. Item 70 is Thomas Gage’s The English-American His Travail by Sea and Land…, printed in London in 1648. Gage was an Englishman raised in Spain who spent years in Central America before returning to England, and who not only described this unfamiliar land, but urged England to seize the territory from Spain. Once an Englishman always an Englishman. $5,000.
Item 19 by Mark Beaufoy is an 1828 account of the author’s travels through Mexico. It’s inscribed by the author. $1,500. Item 40 is The Ancient Cities of the New World, an 1887 translation from French of Desire Charnay’s work. Charnay was a photographer who traveled through Mexico photographing old ruins. $600. Item 63 by George Fracker, the “sole survivor” of a shipwreck in the River Plata in 1817, tells of life in various South American towns. $950.
Then there are the pirates. One was John Cockburn. Cockburn and several of his fellow pirates were set ashore in Central America in 1730, and after escaping imprisonment, traversed the area and brought their experiences home to England. Item 44, a 1735 first edition, is priced at $3,750.
Item 54 is an account from the more respectable pirate Captain William Dampier. It consists of four volumes published between 1697 and 1709. Dampier undertook several voyages, mainly visiting South America from the Pacific side, and eventually exploring Australia for the British. This set of four first editions is priced at $15,000.