Maggs Bros. Ltd. has issued their Catalogue 1522 – Voyages & Travel. Many of these books aren't about travels themselves, though they take their readers, generally Europeans, on visits to other lands. For example, Frederick Douglass' views on voting, or Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, aren't typical travel books, nor is a book on thugs, but they taught people about issues going on in other places. They were virtual travels.
Maggs has conveniently broken their catalogue down by region. Here are the ones covered: Africa; Egypt, the Near East & Middle East; Europe, Russia, Turkey; India, Central Asia & the Far East; Australia & the Pacific; Central & South America; North America; and Alaska & the Poles. That doesn't leave much not covered. These are a few specific items.
Next to the Columbus letter, this is probably the most important letter from the New World. It was written by Hernando Cortes, Spanish conquistador who captured Mexico for Spain. Disobeying orders from Governor Velazquez of Cuba, his superior, he sailed to Mexico and began his journey inland. Considering his limited forces, he made allies of enemies of the Aztecs before marching on their capital. He succeeded in overthrowing their empire and claiming Mexico for Spain. Item 69 is Pracclara Ferdinadi Cortesii de Nova Maris Oceani Hyspania Narratio... a 1524 first Latin edition (after the first of 1522) of Cortes' second letter (his first is lost). It is dated October 30, 1520. He describes what he saw on his journey to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, the fighting he encountered, and then describes the magnificent city. In time, he conquered and destroyed it. Cortes also wrote about his dispute with Velazquez. As usual, it is bound with Peter Martyr's De Rebus, et Insulis Noviter Repertis, which provides some information found in the first letter. Item 69. Priced at £30,000 (British pounds or approximately $37,735 U.S. dollars).
It was a glorious victory for the British. At least, if you read this broadside you might think so. This is A Circumstantial Account of an Attack that happened on the 19th of April 1775, on his Majesty's Troops. This was an account, from the British point of view, of the Battle of Bunker Hill. It is attributed to General Thomas Gage, colonial Governor of Massachusetts. Technically, Gage was right. The British captured Bunker Hill and the Charlestown peninsula from the revolutionaries, but only at a very high cost. The rebellious colonists had fortified a position on the hill and Gage saw an opportunity to teach them a lesson. It became one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution. Gage has admitted that 170 British troops were killed and a “great many” more injured. Maggs points out that the number was more like six times that high. Gage concludes, “The Action has shown the Bravery of the King's Troops, who under every Disadvantage, gained a compleat Victory over Three Times their Number, strongly posted, and covered by Breastworks.” While the British were outnumbered, the three times was an exaggeration. The outcome was technically a British victory, but their casualties were so high they never attempted to attack the patriots in Boston again before abandoning the city. Item 81. £19,500 (US $24,568).
This book is timely today when voting rights in some American jurisdictions are under attack, while millions of people with that right don't even bother to exercise it. Item 90 is The Equality of All Men Before the Law. Claimed and Defended... It was published in 1865, just as the Civil War came to an end. The essays were written by William Kelley, Wendell Phillips, and Frederick Douglass. Douglass, a former slave, was a powerful writer and speaker. Included is a speech he gave to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society on the subject “What the Black Man Wants.” Douglass is emphatic. He wants the right to vote, immediate, unconditional and universal. Why? “We want it because it is our right, first of all. No class of men can, without insulting their own nature, be content with any deprivation of their rights...” As to the argument that women don't have the right, he says “Shall we justify one wrong by another?...I hold that women as well as men, have the right to vote...” Finally, he answers the question, “What shall we do with the Negro? Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played mischief with us...All I ask is give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!” £6,000 (US $7,547).
Granville Sharp was one of England's earliest and most ardent abolitionists. He was involved in causes to end slavery and the slave trade, as well as assisting slaves and former slaves. The latter mostly lived in poverty in England. He and a few others decided to set up a colony in Africa where they could control their own affairs. The location was today's Sierra Leone, but he called it the Province of Freedom. In 1786, he promulgated A Short Sketch of Temporary Regulations (Until Better Shall be Proposed) for the Intended Settlement on the Grain Coast of Africa, Near Sierra Leona. This is the expanded second edition, published the same year as the first. The settlement would be established in 1790 and operated independently until take over by the crown in 1808. Sharp helped to fund it with his own money. The regulations included all facets of the new colony, including law enforcement, guarantees of freedom and protection for strangers, currency, taxes, including those on “Pride and Indolence” as well as the more wealthy, and more. With the official abolition of the slave trade in 1807, it became the center of British operations to suppress the trade in Africa. Item 1. £4,500 (US $5,660).
This is an account of a long ago, forgotten tragedy at sea. The title is Narrative of the Loss of the Esk and Lively, Greenland Whalers, by which Sixty-five Persons Perished; with a Sermon preached on the Melancholy Occasion, published in 1826. The author and preacher was Rev. William Scoresby. He provides a detailed account of the wreck of the Esk. Hit by gales late one afternoon, the ship was washed against rocks, its main sail destroyed, and battered through the night. They were able to light up the cabin and fire off powder to signal their distress to those onshore, but there was little they could do to help during the night. In the morning, a life boat attempted to reach the battered ship but they were unable to get enough volunteers to overcome the power of the sea and reach the Esk. Finally, it broke to pieces. Only three from the crew of 26 were able to make it to shore, each clinging to debris. They were able to provide the details of this account. Almost nothing is known of the fate of the Lively after last spotted at sea by another ship. Some debris was found but nothing more is known. There were no survivors. This was certainly a “melancholy occasion” for Rev. Scoresby. Prior to becoming a preacher, he had been a ship's captain and for several years captained the Esk. He knew several members of its crew, including the Captain. £4,000 (US $5,031).