Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2010 Issue

Nautical Works from the Columbia Trading Company

Books from the seas from Columbia Trading.


By Michael Stillman

The Columbia Trading Company has issued Catalog 149 of Nautical Books and Artifacts. Located on Cape Cod, at the heart of America's seafaring travel since the Pilgrims dropped by on their way to Plymouth, Columbia Trading offers up 652 items related to travel by ships, primarily on the open seas. This is affordable material, very few pieces priced beyond two digits, some appropriate for a nautical collection, others suitable for reading and learning. So let's open the pages, port to starboard, and take a look at a few items inside.

It took 150 years for this journal to make it to print, but when it did, it allowed the world's greatest military power to look back at a time when its European counterparts controlled the seas. Item 33 is Journals of Two Cruises aboard the American Privateer "Yankee" in the War of 1812, published in 1967. The United States had practically no navy when British outrages on the high seas, notably the impressment of American sailors, led the two nations to war. The British controlled the seas, and America was virtually helpless to defend itself from ocean-based attacks. President Madison turned to America's merchant and other ships for help. Private ships were authorized to engage in "privateering," a polite word for legalized piracy. These privateers were able to harass British shipping in a manner similar to the way the Royal Navy was able to disrupt American shipping. This journal of life on board the "Yankee," sailing out of Bristol, Rhode Island, gives an inside view of life on a privateering ship during America's first war. The author is "A Wanderer," generally believed to be Noah Johnson. Priced at $25.

Speaking of Noah, the Noah with no last name must have been the first sailor. Item 276 is David Fasold's 1988 book The Ark of Noah. Fasold studied a site in Turkey he believed contained fossilized remains of the Arc. His claim was controversial even among believers as it was not located on Mount Ararat. He makes his case in this book. In time, Fasold became dubious of his earlier beliefs, repudiating those claims, though others continued to support the theory. $40.

Noah's journey is not alone among alleged travels that stir debate between those who believe versus those who consider it legend. Pre-Columbian visits to America are also a subject of much debate between believers and nonbelievers. Item 135 is The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation, by Skelton, Marston and Painter, published by the Yale University Press in 1965. The Vinland Map and accompanying text purport to be a circa 1440 document which shows Viking visits to North America in the 11th century, long before Columbus. The map shows the edge of a landmass west of Greenland, which could only be North America. The map first surfaced in 1957, its provenance hidden. It was purchased for Yale University, which promoted this study published in 1965. The claim drew plenty of suspicions. Questions were raised about such items as language and depictions of other lands, which many believed reflected much later usage and understanding. Others questioned the age based on scientific studies of the ink and parchment. Nonetheless, if it is a forgery, it is a very good one. Many believe it authentic, and Yale regards it as a still unresolved debate. It should also be noted that there is other evidence that may point to pre-Columbian Viking visits to North America, meaning that claim will still be debated regardless of whether this map is real or fake. $20.

The skepticism concerning the map led to a conference the following year, where contrary viewpoints were enunciated. Item 187 is a report from that conference, Proceedings of the Vinland Map Conference, which was not published until five years later in 1971. Item 186. $20.

As long as we are running the border between fact and legend, here is another fascinating title: Legendary Islands of the Atlantic: A Study in Medieval Geography, by William H. Babcock. Published by the American Geographical Society in 1922, this work describes the various real and phantom islands believed to lie in the Atlantic during the early era of discovery. Naturally, Atlantis takes a primary role, but there were many others, such as the mythical St. Brendan's Island, which early maps displayed in the far northern Atlantic waters. Item 43. $25.

Item 258 is the anonymously written General Information on Grain Loading, published by the National Cargo Bureau in 1962. It covers such things as U.S. Coast Guard regulations for bulk grain cargoes. This is thrown in just in case we have led you to believe that every nautical work is filled with excitement and intrigue. $15.

Does this work belong in this catalogue: Hindenberg. An Illustrated History, by Rick Archbold, published in 1994? Wasn't the "Hindenberg" a dirigible, flying through the air, rather than floating on the water? Well, technically, these hydrogen (dangerous) and helium filled oversized balloons were airships, that is air + SHIPS. I guess that sort of qualifies. The "Hindenberg," of course, was the giant ship that crashed and burned in New Jersey in 1937. Item 340. $35.

The Columbia Trading Company may be reached at 508-362-1500 or info@columbiatrading.com. Their website is found at www.columbiatrading.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bonhams, June 15-25: 18th Century American Sea Captain's Journals of Voyages to Hawaii, China, and South America. $35,000 - $45,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Autograph Diary from Bolling Advance Base, Winter 1934. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. $4,000 - $6,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica seu atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Nobelist George Stigler's Copy of Ricardo's Classic on the Science of Economics. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris: F. L. Schmied, 1927. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Fine Copy of Walras's Classic on the Theory of Marginal Utility. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Arion Press Moby Dick. Melville, Herman. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Venegas, Miguel. Noticia de la California, y desu conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. $7,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Carelton Watkins, Yosemite and the West. Portfolio of 21 imperial albumen prints. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: An Unpublished Archive of Thornton Wilder Correspondence to F.J. O'Neil. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. Suorum de humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. $100,000 - $150,000
  • Bonhams, June 25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. $200,000 - $300,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Gersdorff, Hans Von. 1455-1529. Feldtbuch der wundartzney. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Pare, Ambroise. C.1509-1590. La Methode Curative des Playes, et Fractures de la Teste humaine. Avec les pourtraits des Instruments necessaires pour la curation d'icelles. $25,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Reisch, Gregor. 1470-1525. Margarita Philosophica. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bright, Richard. 1789-1858. Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo. C. 1460-1530. Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Vicq D'Azyr, Felix. 1748-1794. Traite d'antomie et de physiologie. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Croce, Giovanni Andrea Della. 1509?-1775. Chirurgia libri septem... $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bruno Da Longburgo. 1200-1286. La cyrogia di Maistro Bruno: Expertissimo in quella. Tradutta in vulgare. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Schwann, Theodor. 1810-1882. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen uber die Ubereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Cowper, William. 1666-1709. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn after the Life… $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bidloo, Govard. 1649-1713. Anatomia humani corporis, centum & quinque tabulis, per artificiossis. G. de Lairesse ad vivum delineatis. $6,000 - $9,000
  • Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Keats, John] Spenser, Edmund: The Works of that Famous English Poet, Mr. Edmond Spenser. $50,000 - $80,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: (Walton, Izaak): The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. $30,000 - $50,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Thomas, Gabriel: An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America. $25,000 - $35,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Carroll, Lewis]: The Game of Alice in Wonderland. $2,000 - $3,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Athias, Joseph, et al.: Biblia Hebraica. $7,000 - $10,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Warhol, Andy, and Jens Quistgaard] Dansk Designs Salesman's Presentation Catalogue. $2,500 - $3,500.
  • Sotheby’s, June 26: Poe, Edgar Allan. Tamerlane — the most poignant rarity in American literature. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." 2,500,000 - 5,000,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: William Blake. “Poems with very wild and interesting pictures” 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: Thomas Taylor [artist]. The original cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 400,000 - 600,000 USD

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