Rare Book Monthly
Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2007 Issue
A Collection for the California Book Fair from Antiquariaat Forum
By Michael Stillman
The Antiquariaat Forum recently published a Short Title List with recent acquisitions and a selection from our stock to bring to the California International Antiquarian Book Fair. It isn't that short a list since 124 items are described. The Antiquariaat Forum made the long journey from the Netherlands to San Francisco, a painfully long trip in airplane seats now more cramped than Columbus' ships, and with less food offered the passengers. Anyone who endures the horrors of such travels deserves a bit of recognition, so here is a brief review of some the material the Antiquariaat Forum was exhibiting in the City by the Fault.
We will start with an American item, Narrative of the life and adventures of Paul Cuffee, a Pequot Indian. During Thirty Years Spent at Sea, and in Travelling in Foreign Lands. Cuffee was a most remarkable man. As if having an Indian mother was not handicap enough in 18th century America, his father was Black, having once been a slave. Cuffee was determined and very smart. He overcame his enormous disadvantages to become a most successful businessman, operating a sailing ship managed by a crew of Blacks. He also stood up for his principles, refusing to pay taxes on the grounds of the old colonial complaint, taxation without representation. Blacks weren't allowed to vote. Massachusetts was forced to relent and grant all men the franchise. When his children weren't allowed to attend school because of their color, he used his wealth to build an integrated school. In the ‘teens of the 19th century, he worked to set up a colony in Sierra Leone where former American slaves and other Blacks could settle in freedom. He devoted his time and money to this cause, but died in 1818 while the project was still in its early stages. This rare book was published in Vernon, New York, in 1839. Item 26. Priced at $7,150.
Christiaan Huygens was a pioneering Dutch astronomer and mathematician from the 17th century. He discovered the first moon of Saturn, accurately described its rings, patented the first pendulum clock, designed superior telescopes, and promoted a wave theory of light. Item 58 is a first edition of his final work, Kosmotheoros, published in 1598, three years after his death. This book includes both calculations about the planets and universe, as well as Huygens' speculations on inhabitants of other worlds. He believed there must be other beings out there, and that they must resemble humans, both physically and in terms of thinking. While we can conclude fairly conclusively now that these beings do not exist in our solar system, the rest of the universe remains open to discovery. $11,000.
The three voyages of Captain James Cook are among the most notable of all explorations. He provided official reports for each of his voyages (he needed help on the last as he died before its conclusion). However, the public did not always want to wait, and Heinrich Zimmerman was one who helped spread the word early. His account of Cook's third voyage was published in 1781, three years ahead of the official report. Item 123 is the rare first edition in Zimmerman's native German, Reise um die Welt, mit Capitain Cook, published in Manheim. $71,100.