Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2005 Issue

Very Old and Rare Books from Martayan Lan

Rare books from the 15th to 19th centuries from Martayan Lan.


By Michael Stillman

The 36th catalogue of Martyan Lan of New York contains 246 rare books from the 15th to 19th centuries. Most of these works are European in origin, very old, and of considerable significance. Severable are incunables.

The catalogue is divided into sections suitable for different types of collections. The first topic is travel, geography and voyages, followed by the history of science. The latter is divided into astronomy; physics, mathematics and alchemy; and medicine, natural history and mining. Next it moves to arts and humanities, and finally two contemporary portraits, one of Sir Isaac Newton, the other of William Harvey.

For those who collect in these fields, we recommend locating a copy of this catalogue. Most of what you will find is not what you might expect. For example, under travel, geography and voyages, there are no Cooks or Lewis and Clarks. But, here is an incunable concerning the siege of Rhodes in 1480. Rhodes is a Greek island off the Turkish coast that has exchanged hands several times over the past few millennia. Early in the 14th century, control of the island fell to the Knights of St. John, or Knights of Rhodes (later known as the Knights of Malta when they were forced from Rhodes). Item 12 is Obsidionis Rhodie urbis descripto, by Guillaume Caoursin, a member of the Knights. It recounts the siege of 1480 when the Knights, with aid of fortifications, withstood a much larger Ottoman force under Mehmed (Mahomet) II. The Ottoman ruler died before attempting another siege, and the Christian Knights were able to maintain control until 1522, when Suleiman sent an overwhelming force to wrest control of the island for the Turks. It would so remain until the 20th century when recaptured by Europeans. Meanwhile, the Knights would move on to Malta, and continue today as a quasi-government without land. This title, published in 1482, recounts one of the high points of the Knights' long history. Priced at $22,500.

Giovanni Gemelli-Careri undertook one of the most remarkable trips around the world late in the 17th century. He had no ships, no crew. He went alone, availing himself of whatever transportation was available. He was not motivated by trade or missionary work, nor any particular scientific endeavors. He was essentially just a tourist, perhaps the first to complete such a trip around the world. His travels took Gemelli-Careri from his home in Naples to Malta, Egypt, Turkey, Persia, India, China, the Philippines, Mexico, South America, and Cuba. His travelogue, Giro de Mondo, would prove to be very popular and run to many editions. This is a first, six volumes published from 1699-1700. A century later, some would question whether Gemelli-Careri ever made this journey, but his descriptions of places like Mexico and India contain details it is unlikely he could have known without personally visiting the sites. Item 23. $17,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.

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