Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2006 Issue

Part II of the Parsons Collection of Pacific Voyages from Hordern House

Parsons2

Part II of the Parsons collection of Pacific voyages.


By Michael Stillman

Hordern House
, of New South Wales, Australia, has recently released the second part of their magnificent catalogue of the collection of David Parsons. Parsons, an American collector from Atlanta, developed one of the finest collections of Pacific voyages you could imagine. In January, we reviewed the first part of this collection, which started with Dampier's voyages in the 1670s and ended with Cook (see http://www.americanaexchange.com/NewAE/aemonthly/review_1.asp?id=234&q=hordern%20and%20parsons&page=1). This second part of the collection begins with the post-Cook era, and continues to the mid-19th century.

David Parsons reported that he decided to put his Pacific voyages collection up for sale to concentrate on a collection of Spanish and Portuguese expansion at the time of Columbus. We can see two very good reasons why he selected Hordern House to conduct the sale, though some might think an Australian bookseller out of the way. First, a great many Pacific voyages involved Australia or Pacific islands for which Australia is their closest large neighbor. Australia was the major stopping point for the greatest of all Pacific explorers, Captain James Cook. However, collectors of other areas, and America in particular, will find some of the greatest works for their libraries being offered in this catalogue. Just as Cook visited many other lands during his explorations, including the west coast of America, Parsons' collection covered many other Pacific countries. Indeed, many of these explorers never touched Australia. For example, there is a section on Russian explorers whose Pacific voyages never took them from the northernmost latitudes. These works are particularly interesting to collectors of Americana, as the Russians usually went to Alaska, or perhaps as far south as Nootka Sound (along Canada's Vancouver Island).

The other reason Parsons may have chosen Hordern House is the wonderful catalogues of his collection they have produced. Parsons' collection and provenance will always live in these catalogues, which in reality are large, fully described and richly illustrated memorials to his collection. Even if you are not in the market for the original books, if your interest is in Pacific voyages, you might want to contact Hordern House concerning a copy of this set. It is itself a collectible piece. Here are a few of the books that are offered in the second volume.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
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    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
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    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
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    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
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