Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2019 Issue

A Polar Catalogue from Aquila Books


Aquila Books' Polar Catalogue.

Aquila Books has issued a Polar Catalogue Spring 2019. Even the poles have springtime, though it is not a time for shirtsleeves or filling the pool. However, the title more likely refers to spring in Aquila's balmy hometown of Calgary, Canada. This catalogue includes many of the major works of polar exploration along with numerous others more obscure to those not polar collecting specialists. Most refer to the Arctic or northern polar area as most historic expeditions headed toward this pole. Nonetheless, there are several items pertaining to the less frequent travels to the far south. Here are a few selections to be found in this polar catalogue.


One of the highlights of Arctic polar exploration was the attempt to reach the North Pole. It took a lot of effort and many failed attempts before finally being achieved. Credit for being first there generally goes to Admiral Robert Peary of the United States in 1911. Peary's record was challenged in his time by the claims of Frederick Cook who said he reached the pole in 1908, but his claim has long since been discredited. More recently, some scholars have challenged whether Peary actually reached the North Pole, but we will leave that issue for another day and go along with the original consensus crediting him. However, it should be noted that Peary did not reach the pole alone. He was accompanied by four Inuit natives and Matthew Henson. Henson's participation was particularly notable as that was a time when there was enormous discrimination against African Americans, and many believed they were incapable of such accomplishments. Nevertheless, when Peary chose those he felt best suited for the final assault, he thought it was Henson and the natives who were most qualified for the task. Item 37 is A Negro Explorer at the North Pole by Matthew Henson, published in 1912. Peary came home to great acclaim, and you would think that Henson would have achieved some of that and his book would have become a bestseller. Neither of those was true. Racism was too ingrained at the time. Henson was largely ignored, his book sold few copies. Henson had traveled with Peary on all but his first Arctic exploration, so it is not surprising that he would have great faith in the former's ability to survive the harsh conditions at the most critical of times. Priced at $1,200 (note: prices here are given in U.S. dollars, but the catalogue also provides them in Canadian dollars and British pounds).


The greatest of Arctic searches was that for Sir John Franklin's expedition, which headed for the Arctic of Northern Canada in 1845, in search of the Northwest Passage. It never returned, no one survived. They ran out of food and supplies, their ship frozen into the polar sea north of the Canadian mainland. They attempted to escape by land, but all starved or froze to death without finding rescue. When nothing was heard from Franklin for three years, concerns began to mount and a large number of search and rescue missions were sent out over the coming years. Most were sponsored by the British government, but the Americans also attempted as did several private parties. By 1857, the British government was ready to throw in the towel. Lady Franklin was not. Item 29 is a second edition of Lady Franklin's plea, A Letter to Viscount Palmerston, K.G. from Lady Franklin, published in 1857. Palmerston was Prime Minister of the U.K. at the time. The letter was written and published by Mrs. Franklin in hopes of gaining the Prime Minister's sympathy with the cause of continuing the search. This second edition includes a folding map not present in the first. Despite the lack of continued support for additional expeditions from the government, there would be another private one, which would result in learning for certain of Franklin's unfortunate fate. $8,800.


While there was fairly solid evidence that Franklin and his men had not survived earlier, their fate was not conclusively determined until a private expedition sponsored by Lady Franklin and headed by Captain Francis Leopold McClintock set out in 1857. McClintock had been in Franklin searches as far back as 1848. He focused his search in an area where John Rae had heard of Franklin's outcome from Inuit natives in 1854, though many discounted Rae's report. McClintock spoke with the Inuit who told him the men had been forced to abandon the ship and head south on foot, but starved on an island before ever making it back. He also discovered a note hidden beneath a cairn from one of the crew saying that Franklin had died while still on board the ship and that the others headed south on foot. They also discovered a few bodies and artifacts. McClintock headed home in 1859 to report on the fate of Frankin's men. He recounts it in his book, published in 1859, A Narrative of the Discovery of the Fate of Sir John Franklin and His Companions. Item 52. $600.


Here is a remarkable Arctic item. It is a collection of five pencil sketches by George Back. Back participated in several Arctic explorations, including two led by the aforementioned Franklin. Fortunately, neither was Franklin's final journey. This expedition, commanded by Franklin, took place from 1819-1822. Rather than being a sea journey, this was overland. It was part of a search for the Northwest Passage in two parts. A sea journey was headed up by William Edward Parry. Franklin's crew went overland, from Great Slave Lake along the Coppermine River to the Arctic coast. From there they were to explore the coast, searching for a Northwest Passage. Unfortunately, almost everything went wrong. Supplies were short, expected cooperation from natives and fur trading companies was not forthcoming, weather was unexpectedly harsh, and as a result, game was scarce. They made it to the sea and surveyed about 500 miles of shoreline before curtailing the mission and making a mad dash south across uncharted territory. Half of the 22 men died of starvation. While locals accused Franklin of being ill-prepared, at home he was considered a hero for surviving such horrible conditions. Franklin was rewarded with several more missions and Back, too, would be appointed to head two missions a decade later. One took him up the the Great Fish River, ironically, in search of a different lost explorer, John Ross. They received notification while preparing that Ross had been found, but they proceeded up the Great Fish River, since renamed the Back River, for exploring purposes anyway. These drawings go back to the earlier ill-fated mission with Franklin, but during its beginning, more favorable days, while traveling through forests and along the Coppermine River. Item 4. $20,000.


Here is an uncommon Arctic book, The Soviet Arctic, published in 1939. While written and published in the Soviet Union, it is in English, so obviously meant for foreign consumption. It is a combination account of Soviet foreign explorations and development with propaganda. Aquila notes that some of the photographs appear to have been doctored. Item 73. $320.


Aquila Books may be reached at 403-282-5832 or 888-777-5832 (toll-free in North America), or at aquila@aquilabooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until July 31</b>
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Cleveley, Jukes, & Cook - View of Charlotte Sound, New Zealand. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Peron - Platypus. $300 to $600.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Loon & Pitt - Map of the World published 1680 - <I>Orbis Terrarum nova et accuratissima tabula.</i> $5,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Maitres de l'Affiche by MUCHA - La Dame aux Camelias. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until July 31</b>
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Cause - Peony, Crocus, Dog's Tooth Violet. $400 to $800.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Redoute, Folio - Lemmonnier's Iris - Iris Monnieri. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Audubon, Imperial Folio - Common American Deer. $6,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Gould - Cuvier's Toucan (Ramphastos Cuvieri). $5,000 to $8,000.
  • <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> OUTHWAITE, Ida Rentoul. FROG TEACHER LEADING ELF PUPILS ... Watercolour, c.1920.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> SATO, Gyro. [GENDAI RYOKI SENTAN ZUKAN]. Tokyo : Shinchosa, 1931.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> CARROLL, Lewis. ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. London : Macmillan and Co., 1868.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> FLEMING, Ian and MILLER, Albert. CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. New York : Random House, 1968.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> PHOENIX. Adelaide : Adelaide University Union, 1939.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> BOWEN, Emmanuel. A complete map of the Southern Continent. London : 1744.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> NORTHFIELD, James. AUSTRALIA. Melbourne : Northfield Studios and J.E. Hackett, c.1935
  • <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true originall copies.</i> London, Tho Cotes, for Robert Allot, 1632.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> STAHL, Augusto. <i>Panorama of Rio de Janiero.</i> c.1859. 3-part albumen print panorama (266 x 1186mm.).
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> WILDE, Oscar. <i>Lady Windermere's Fan</i>. London: Elkin Mathews & John Lane, 1893. Presentation copy.
    <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> DE TOCQUEVILLE, Alexis. <i>De la Democratie en Amerique.</i> Paris: Pagnerre, 1850. Thirteenth Edition. Presentation copy.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> CHAUDRON, A[delaide] de V[endel]. <i>Chaudron’s Spelling Book.</i> Mobile (AL): S.H. Goetzel, 1865.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> SAINT CHER, Hugh of. <i>Commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences, with the Abridgement of the Sentences.</i> Eastern France, illuminated manuscript., first half of the fifteenth century.
    <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> LANE, Thomas. <i>The Crystal Palace.</i> London, 1851.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> B[ULWER], J[ohn]. <i>Anthropometamorphosis: man transform’d: or, the artificiall changling historically presented…</i> London: William Hunt, 1653.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> VOLTAIRE, François-Marie Arouet de. <i>Oeuvres de M. de Voltaire.</i> Dresden, George-Conrad Walther (i.e. Leipzig, Breitkopf), 1748-1750.
    <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> HAWKING, Stephen & Leonard Mlodinow. <i>The Grand Design.</i> London: Bantam Books, 2011.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> FIELDS, James T. <i>Yesterdays with Authors.</i> With fine manuscript letter by Charles Dickens, and autograph letters from Forster, Landor, Mitford and others.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> <i>Kit, the Arkansas Traveller Broadside.</i> Chromolithograph.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Les Cigarettes Mekka,</i> 1919. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Plinio Codognato, <i>Cicli Fiat,</i> circa 1910. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> L.N. Britton, <i>Warning! Consider the Possible Consequences,</i> c. 1917. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonardo Bistolfi, <i>Première Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs Modernes,</i> 1902. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Paquet Pernot / Biscuits Pernot,</i> 1910. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jul 15:</b> Jessie Tarbox Beals, archive of signed photographs, 15 silver prints, c. 1930. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Francesco Nonni, <i>Font Meo / Acqua Minerale Naturale,</i> 1924. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Frederick Winthrop Ramsdell, <i>American Crescent Cycles,</i> 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> <i>Be a Tight Wad! Own Something!</i> designer unknown, 1925. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Candido Aragonese de Faria, <i>Chamonix–Mont–Blanc,</i> c. 1910. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> W.E.J., <i>Irishmen Avenge the Lusitania,</i> c. 1915. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Family photograph album ("The Hughes family Album"), 1957-1962. £30,000 to £50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Typed letter signed, to Ted Hughes, on "my own private doctrine", with a poem, 5 October 1956. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Pen and ink portrait of Ted Hughes, [1956]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Joint autograph letter signed, to William and Edith Hughes, March 1960. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Photographic portrait by David Bailey, inscribed by Plath, 1961, and another press photo. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Tarot de Marseille. Deck of cards owned by Sylvia Plath. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Pair of gold wedding rings. £6,000 to £8,000.

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