Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2019 Issue

The John Bockstoce Arctic Collection from Patrick McGahern Books

The John Bockstoce Arctic Collection.

Patrick McGahern Books has issued their second catalogue of Books from the Library of John Bockstoce - Part Two. The Arctic. John Bockstoce is an Arctic expert, author of several books, and one who has made numerous sailing trips to the far north. This includes trips to the legendary Northwest Passage, the sea route north of the Canadian mainland between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Unfortunately, it has proven too shallow and frozen too much of the year to be a practical shipping lane, but with climate change, who knows? In July, we reviewed Part One of his collection. Here are some more of his books.


In the West, we are more familiar with the countless attempts to find a Northwest Passage, unsuccessful for centuries. However, attempts were also being made to find an eastern route, that is, one that reached the Pacific by sailing north of Russia. This one proved equally treacherous. Item 3 is A True Description of Three Voyages By the North-East Towards Cathay and China, undertaken by the Dutch in the Years 1594, 1595, and 1596. This is an account of three voyages headed by Willem Barents (or Barentsz). The expectation was that the salty sea water would keep a passageway open through winter, but that underestimated the intensity of the cold. The first two times, Barents reached Novaya Zemlya, but was turned back by ice. On the third trip, Barents discovered Spitsbergen and managed to round Novaya Zemlya, but didn't get much farther. He attempted to return, only to be trapped in ice. It turned into a grueling wintering over, unbearably cold temperatures in a cabin they constructed, waiting for summer. When it finally came, their boat remained trapped and they had to construct a pair of open boats to get back to civilization. Several crewmen, including Barents, died along the way. The author of this book, Gerrit de Veer, understood the situation well. He was the carpenter on the second and third voyages and kept a diary. Originally published in Dutch in 1598 and translated to English in 1609, this edition was published in 1853 by the Hakluyt Society. Priced at CAN $750 (Canadian dollars, or approximately $564 in U.S. dollars).


This voyage of exploration was better than a great many. No, nothing was achieved, but then again, no one froze or starved to death either. There were no casualties. Item 50 is L'Expedition Au Pole Nord (the expedition to the North Pole) by Gustave Lambert. Published in 1868, it might have been a description of the French journey to the North Pole, only it never happened. Lambert describes polar exploration in general and opinions of how to reach the North Pole, which was still 40 years away. Lambert suggested a route via the Bering Strait, the open sea between Alaska and Russia. However, this French journey was never undertaken. CAN $250 (US $184).


Ultimately, the French proved smarter than the Americans by abandoning this route. The Americans, headed up by naval officer George Washington De Long, attempted to reach the North Pole via the Bering Strait. The theory was that relatively warm water flowed up from the strait most of the way to the pole, allowing for a fairly short trip from boat to pole. It didn't turn out that way. Instead, De Long's ship became entrapped in ice north of Siberia. It stayed that way for 19 months when the sea ice finally crushed it. The 33 men were forced to abandon ship. They dragged three small boats south until hitting open water, then made a run for Siberia. Unfortunately, stormy weather arose and the three boats were separated. One disappeared and was never heard from again. Another made it to the coast where the men quickly found rescue. The third, including De Long, made it to the coast, but not close to anyone. Two of the men took off on foot to seek rescue while the others waited behind. Cold and half-starved, the two finally made it to civilization. However, it was already fall and attempts to find the others were unsuccessful. Further attempts had to wait until spring, and when the remaining 11 were located, they were already dead from cold and starvation. The title of De Long's account is The Voyage of the Jeannette. The Ship and Ice Journals of George W. DeLong...commander of the Polar Expedition of 1879-1881. Edited by his wife, Emma De Long, published in 1883. It is based on Mr. De Long's journals and accounts of the survivors, with Mrs. De Long standing in for her husband for obvious reasons. Item 14. CAN $900 (US $677).


The French journey to the North Pole may not be the only one that never happened. Frederick Cook's alleged ascent to the pole is deeply questioned. In fact, few people believe him any more. If true, he would have been the first to reach the North Pole, ahead of Robert Peary (whose claim now is also doubted by some). Cook's account of his allegedly reaching the pole is described in his book, published in 1911, My Attainment of the Pole: Being the Record of the Expedition that First Reached the Boreal Center, 1907-1909. With the Final Summary of the Polar Controversy. Cook's records of his trip were incomplete, and the stories of his two Inuit companions sometimes conflicting. It did little to restore Cook's reputation for truthfulness that he was later convicted and imprisoned for fraud relating to stocks. However, in his defense, Cook had a great admirer in Roald Amundsen, unquestionably the first to reach the South Pole, and possibly the North Pole if both Cook and Peary were faking it. There was no question of Cook's bravery and Amundsen believed Cook had saved his life during the Belgian Antarctic Expedition years earlier. Item 12. CAN $200 (US $150).


William Parry was one of the great Arctic explorers and one of the more successful in searching for the Northwest Passage. In 1819, he headed for the Arctic, navigating his way through icy waters and the islands north of the Canadian mainland. It was a dangerous journey through the ice, but by the end of September, he had made it to (and discovered) Melville Island. It was the farthest west through the Canadian Arctic anyone had yet traveled, but it was as far as they could go. The sea was freezing, so they pulled into what they called "Winter Harbour" on the island and waited for the ice to melt. It was a long wait. Meanwhile, the weather got colder and the sun disappeared, ushering in months of darkness. The men could have gone crazy during the long cold night, but Parry was a smart leader. He organized activities to keep them busy, including putting on plays and publishing a newspaper. That newspaper was called The North Georgia Gazette. It was published from November 1, 1819 to March 20, 1820. It is unclear whether it was originally printed on board or distributed as a manuscript and printed on return to London. Item 66 is a copy of The North Georgia Gazette, and Winter Chronicle, published in London in 1821. The ice finally cleared enough for Parry to sail ten months later, on August 1, 1820. They proceeded even farther west before turning around and heading home before being frozen in again. CAN $800 (US $589).


Patrick McGahern Books may be reached at 613-230-2277 or books@mcgahernbooks.ca. Their website is www.mcgahernbooks.ca.

Rare Book Monthly

    Valuable Books and Manuscripts
    London auction
    13 December
    Find out more
    Christie’s, Explore now
    TREW, Christoph Jacob (1695–1769). Plantae Selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini in hortus curiosorum. [Nuremberg: 1750–1773]. £30,000–40,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623–88). Liber Organicus Astronomiae Europaeae apud Sinas restituate. [Beijing: Board of Astronomy, 1674]. £250,000–350,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ALICE & NIKOLAUS HARNONCOURT. Master of Jean Rolin (active 1445–65). Book of Hours, use of Paris, in Latin and French, [Paris, c.1450–1460]. £120,000–180,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    A SILVER MICROSCOPE. Probably by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), c.1700. £150,000–250,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    C.1311. £100,000–150,000
  • Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Roberts (David) & Croly (George). The Holy Land, Syria, Idumae, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. Lond. 1842 - 1843 [-49]. First Edn. €10,000 to €15,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Incunabula: O'Fihily (Maurice). Duns Scotus Joannes: O'Fihely, Maurice Abp… Venice, 20th November 1497. €8,000 to €12,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: An important file of documents with provenance to G.A. Newsom, manager of the Jacob’s Factory in Dublin, occupied by insurgents during Easter Week 1916. €6,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: WILDE (Oscar), 1854-1900, playwright, aesthete and wit. A lock of Wilde’s Hair, presented by his son to the distinguished Irish actor Mícheál MacLiammóir. €6,000 to €8,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Heaney (Seamus). Bog Poems, London, 1975. Special Limited Edition, No. 33 of 150 Copies, Signed by Author. Illus. by Barrie Cooke. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Binding: Burke, Thomas O.P. (de Burgo). Hibernia Dominicana, Sive Historia Provinciae Hiberniae Ordinis Praedicatorum, ... 1762. First Edition. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: COLLINS, Michael. An important TL, 29 July 1922, addressed to GOVERNMENT on ‘suggested Proclamation warning all concerned that troops have orders to shoot prisoners found sniping, ambushing etc.’. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Scott Fitzgerald (F.) The Great Gatsby, New York (Charles Scribner's Sons) 1925, First Edn. €2,000 to €3,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Yeats (W.B.) The Poems of W.B. Yeats, 2 vols. Lond. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949. Limited Edition, No. 46 of 375 Copies Only, Signed by W.B. Yeats. €1,500 to €2,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of the Russian Empire, Description in English and French, Lg. folio London (S. Gosnell) 1803. First Edn. €1,000 to €1,500.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of Turkey, Illustrated by a Series of Engravings. Lg. folio Lond.(T. Bensley) 1802. First Edn. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Mason (Geo. Henry). The Costume of China, Illustrated with Sixty Engravings. Lg. folio London (for W. Miller) 1800. First Edn. €1,400 to €1,800
  • Sotheby’s
    Fine Books and Manuscripts
    8 December 2023
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: [Austen, Jane] — Isaac D'Israeli. Jane Austen's copy of Curiosities of Literature. 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: [Austen, Jane]. A handsome first edition in boards of the author's debut novel. 70,000 - 100,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Brontë, Charlotte. "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me..." 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Eliot, George. The author's magnum opus. 25,000 - 35,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Whitman, Walt. Manuscript written upon the Death of Lincoln, 1865. 60,000 - 80,000 USD
  • Sotheby’s
    Important Modern Literature from the Library of an American Filmmaker
    8 December 2023
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Kerouac, Jack. Typescript scroll of The Dharma Bums. Typed by Kerouac in Orlando, Florida, 1957, published by Viking in 1958. 300,000 - 500,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Hemingway, Ernest. The autograph manuscript of "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." [Key West, finished April 1936]. 300,000 - 500,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Miller, Henry. Typescript of The Last Book, a working title for Tropic of Cancer, written circa 1931–1932. 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Ruscha, Ed. Twentysix Gasoline Stations, with a lengthy inscription to Joe Goode. 40,000 - 60,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Hemingway, Ernest. in our time, first edition of Hemingway’s second book. 30,000 - 50,000 USD
  • Swann
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: Samuel Augustus Mitchell, A New Map of Texas, Oregon and California with the Regions Adjoining, Philadelphia, 1846. $3,500 to $5,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: 17th–19th-century case maps of various locations. $1,500 to $2,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Andreas Cellarius, Haemisphaerium Stellatum Boreale Cum Subiecto Haemisphaerio Terrestri, celestial chart, Amsterdam, 1708. $2,500 to $3,500.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: Vincenzo Coronelli, Set of engraved gores for Coronelli’s monumental 42-inch terrestrial globe, Venice, circa 1688–97. $18,000 to $22,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer, group of four navigational charts, Antwerp, 1580s. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Thomas Bros, Block Book of Berkeley, Oakland, 1920s. $800 to $1,200.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Nieuhoff & John Ogilby, An Embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces, map of China, plan of Canton, London, 1673. $1,200 to $1,800.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Frederick Sander, Reichenbachia, St. Albans, 1888-1894. $5,000 to $7,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Two early illustrated works on horsemanship and breeding, Nuremberg, early 18th century. $700 to $800.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Gould, A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans. Supplement to the First Edition, London, 1834; 1855. $40,000 to $60,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Pinkerton, A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in All Parts of the World, London, 1808–14. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Oakley Hoopes Bailey, Hackensack, New Jersey, Boston, 1896. $800 to $1,200.

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