Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2007 Issue

The Dutch East Indies from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje

The Dutch East Indies from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje.


By Michael Stillman

The latest catalogue from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje is entitled Rare Nineteenth Century Brochures in the Dutch East Indies Present-Day Indonesia. The Dutch controlled Indonesia until the Second World War, which began the rapid dismantling of the old colonial system. Since Indonesia was part of the Dutch empire, it is not surprising that a Dutch bookseller such as Bestebreurtje would have access to this material. Most of these brochures were gathered by a Dutch collector during the first half of the twentieth century. However, the items themselves are from the nineteenth century. Among the subjects covered are: the Cultivation System, compulsory labor, budgetary surplus, administration, navy and army, the missionary society, church and Islam, railways, the Aceh war, opium, sugar, tobacco, rice, tin and coal. Authors include statesmen and political leaders, businessmen, entrepreneurs, journalists, and others involved with the area. The language of the pamphlets is Dutch. Here is a quick sampling of the type of material available.

Item 4 is one of many works on Cultuurstelsel or the Cultivation System (or Forced Cultivation). Losing money on its East Indian colony in 1830, the Dutch instituted a system which required that one-fifth of crops grown in the colony be produced for export. The financial benefits to the Netherlands were enormous. Not only did it erase their colonial deficits, it created great surpluses which were used to pay for projects at home, such as railroads, and to deal with colonial expenses in other lands. It also was beneficial to the wealthier natives who knew how to play the system. However, for the poor farmers, it generally meant more work, and at times food shortages as land was transferred from rice to export production. Eventually reports of its impact on the poor farmers led to the gradual dismantling of the system through the second half of the 19th century. This item was written by Hieronymus van Alphen, two volumes from 1869-70. Priced at €225 (Euros, or roughly $300 in U.S. dollars).

Items 7-9 pertain to Jacobus Johannes van Angelbeek. He was serving on the High Court of the Dutch East Indies when he refused to sign a death warrant. The result was he was sent back to Holland on "sick leave." Priced at €225 each (US $300).

Item 49 is an 1865 work by P. van Diest pertaining to Bangka and its tin mines. Bangka is an island east of Sumatra where tin has been mined since 1710. It was the major export in the 19th century and continues to be a major resource to this day. €295 (US $394).

Item 117 by Sebastiaan Nederburgh (1889) discusses means of reducing the opium trade on Java. Opium was unfortunately a major income producer for the East Indies. €65 (US $87).

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.

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