Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2012 Issue

Africa from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books

Bestebreurtje54

Africa, from Bestebreurtje Rare Books.

Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books has issued a new collection, titled List 54: Africa. This is Africa primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries, and Africa as seen through the eyes of Europeans. There is a copy of Leo Africanus' work, but otherwise, the writers were Europeans, so their views are more likely those of outsiders than natives. That is not to say they did not spend much time in this continent across the Mediterranean, nor come to know it well, but one's view of a different land can't help but be shaped by the experiences brought to it. That said, we do get early looks at life in Africa, first discoveries of interior lands previously unknown to the outside world, and some tell us of the worst things Europeans (and others) brought to Africa – the slave trade. Fortunately, we also hear from some of those who fought to abolish that horrible practice. Now, we will take a look at some of these books related to Africa.

The most notable of 18th century British explorers to Africa would have to be James Bruce. The Nile was long one of the world's most famous geological features, and yet its source remained unknown to the outside world for millennia. In 1768, Bruce set out to answer this age old question. He did not travel up the Nile from its mouth, but believing the source to be in Ethiopia, attacked the journey from that angle. It took several years, but at last he reached the source. However, credit for discovering the source of the Nile now resides with Speke, almost a century later. Bruce found the source of the Blue Nile, but most now consider that a tributary, with the White Nile considered the main branch. Bruce recounted his adventures in his book Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile, in the Years 1768...1773. Item 39 is a first edition, though it was not published until 1790. Many challenged the accuracy of Bruce's claims (unfairly), leading him to delay for many years before putting his story to paper. Priced at €4,250 (euros, or approximately US $5,650).


William George Browne was an aspiring writer who was fascinated by the travels of James Bruce. Having access to a decent amount of money, he dropped his pen and went off to explore the regions Bruce had visited. He left England in 1792, setting out for Egypt. After a year there, he decided to go deeper into the continent, to Darfur, in today's Sudan. It was a tough place, as it is today. He spent three years there, primarily because he was not allowed to leave. Browne was the first Englishman to describe the place. From there he returned to Egypt and then traveled on to Syria. He returned home in 1798. Browne recounted his experiences in his book Travels in Africa, Egypt and Syria, from the years 1792 to 1798. He never lost the urge to travel, taking several more trips, the last resulting in his being killed by bandits in what is today Iran in 1813. Item 38 is a second and “best” edition, published in 1806. €1,250 (US $1,665).


Here is another travelogue into Egypt and surrounding areas, though an unintentional one: A series of adventures in the course of a voyage up the Red-Sea... Author Eyles Irwin was in the employ of the East India Company when he became embroiled in a controversy involving the British Governor of India. He set off for England to explain his position, but the ship he took was captured by pirates. He was taken to various places in Egypt before a sympathetic shiekh helped him obtain his freedom and make a 340-mile trek across the desert to safety. After 11 months of traveling, Irwin arrived in England, was restored to his position, and spent the remainder of his life both as an official for the East India Company, and as a poet and writer. Item 156. €950 (US $1,266).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
  • <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 54. Fanciful engraving of earth's interior with magma core and errupting volcanoes (1682). $1500 to $1800.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 165. Rare state of Jefferys' influential map of New England in contemporary color (1755). $8000 to $9500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 177. Mouzon's foundation map of the Carolinas (1775). $10000 to $13000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 183. Very rare first state of De Fer's map of the Lower Mississippi Valley (1715). $20000 to $25000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 253. Scarce Scottish edition based on Ellicott's plan of Washington, D.C. (1796). $2400 to $3000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 313. Stunning view of Philadelphia by John Bachmann (1850). $3250 to $4250.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 338. Rare Civil War map based on Bucholtz map of Virginia (1862). $9500 to $12000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 667. First map to accurately show Luzon in Philippines (1590). $6000 to $7500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 682. Rare map of Shanghai International Settlement published just after WWI (1918). $7000 to $9000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 738. Coronelli's superb map of the Pacific showing the Island of California (1697) Est. $2400 - $3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 743. A cornerstone piece in the mapping of Australia and New Zealand (1726) Est. $6000 - $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 781. An uncommon signature during Jefferson's Governorship of Virginia (1779) Est. $9500 - $11000
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.

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