Asher Rare Books and the Antiquariaat Forum recently published A Selection of Autographs, Drawings, Photographs and Printed Books. This was a selection that the Dutch booksellers brought to America for the California Antiquarian Book Fair held last month. Not surprisingly, they brought a large number of works that pertain to America to show an American audience, though they also brought many other types of works as well. We are not so parochial as to be unable to collect anything but our home country! So, we have a nice mix of material, most, in keeping with the booksellers' names, rare and antiquarian. Here are a few of the selections.
Item 55 is Het Britannische ryk in Amerika, the 1721 Dutch translation of John Oldmixon's The British Empire in America. Oldmixon was a historian who wrote about many things British, this one being focused on its possessions in the Americas. The first volume covers the North American continent, while the second focuses on England's possessions in the Caribbean. It contains eight folding maps, covering the colonies from the Carolinas to Nova Scotia, the various islands, and one of North America that still shows California as an island. Priced at $8,000.
Heinrich Zimmermann could be described as a “sooner” though his extensive travels never took him to Oklahoma. Zimmermann signed on to James Cook's third voyage as a regular sailor, serving on the lower deck. Despite his common origins, he was a surprisingly literate man, and he kept notes about the journey which took him to Australia, Hawaii, and the west coast of America among other places. On return, those who accompanied Cook were warned that they could not publish any accounts of the voyage until the official report was released. Zimmermann paid them no mind. He was a German national, out of reach of English authorities. Instead, he published this book, Reise um die Welt, mit Captain Cook, in 1781, three years ahead of the official account. It is uncertain whether Zimmermann's or another book by Rickman was the first published account of Cook's third voyage, both having rushed their books to press. Item 18. $48,000.
Here is another item with a Cook connection. Item 27 is Characteres generum Plantarum... by Georg and Johann Reinhold Forster. When Joseph Banks, naturalist on the first of Cook's voyages, refused to go on the second in a dispute over quarters, the job went to the Forsters, father and son. Offered is a 1776 second edition of their illustrated account of the plants they found. The drawings were provided by the Forsters. $5,750.
Item 70 is a rare pamphlet that would play a role in the early westernization of Hawaii. The title is A narrative of five youth from the Sandwich Islands. It was published in 1816, a time when most English-speaking people still referred to Hawaii as the “Sandwich Islands.” The five youths were brought to New York and Boston to be educated, their being notably ignorant in the tenants of Christianity. Said ignorance of the islanders aroused great concern among the religious of New England, and led to the Hawaiian missionary movement that began in 1819. This movement would profoundly change the culture of a land that only a few decades earlier had been unknown to the West. $4,750.
Item 11 is a collection of four letters between Kiliaen van Rensselaer and Hillegonda van Byler, two from each, written before their marriage in 1616. Van Rensselaer would play an important role in the development of New Netherland, roughly today's New York and New Jersey, though he never lived there. He was a Dutch jeweler, quite successful, who became an early subscriber of the Dutch West India Company. That company was given the task of developing trade with and settlement of the colony in America. It was patterned on the Dutch East India Company, an enormously powerful and successful company operating primarily in today's Indonesia. The West Indies version was not so successful. Trade was never that good, and by the 1670s, the British had run the Dutch colonial government out of America. The company did set up a system known as the patroon system, where large tracts of land were made available under the condition of settlement by the owners. The patroons mostly failed, except for that of van Rensselaer. His land was situated around the current location of Albany, New York, all of which once belonged to him. Even after the Dutch government was driven out, his descendants continued to own most of the land all the way into the 19th century, and many prominent New Yorkers of the time carried the van Rensselaer name (as does the city across the Hudson River from Albany). These van Rensselaers all descended from one of Kiliaen's sons who settled there, as Kiliaen apparently never even visited his colony. $9,500.
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