Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2008 Issue

Travel and Exploration from Antiquariat Ralf Eigl

Eigl32

Travel and Exploration from Antiquariat Eigl.


By Michael Stillman

We have received our first catalogue from Antiquariat Ralf Eigl, a German bookseller from Rosenheim. Antiquariat Eigl has been selling books for over twenty years and our first catalogue is actually their 32nd. Their specialty is rare books in the field of travel and exploration, so the title of this catalogue, Travel and Exploration, makes perfect sense. Along with some of the more expected areas of travel, they carry many works of polar exploration.

Most of the books in this catalogue are in the German or English languages, though you may find titles in French, Spanish or Dutch. Descriptions in the catalogue are in German or English, generally corresponding to the language of the book. Those who speak English will be able to read the descriptions of English language books, the same for those who speak German. If you are bilingual, you'll understand everything. I am not, so for a few samples of the material available, I will focus on those books described in English. There are many.

Item 30 is an example of a book in English concerning polar exploration: The Arctic North-East and West Passage, edited by Hessel Gerritsz and Frederik Muller. Published in 1878 in Amsterdam, this work provided the first reliable English translation of the account of Henry Hudson's final voyage, in which his mutinous crew cast him adrift, never to be heard from again. This work was originally published in 1612, the year after Hudson disappeared. It also contains an account of Isaac Massa's nine years in Russia as a young man, including his map of the Arctic coast of Siberia, and Pedro Fernandes de Quiros' attempt to find the mythical great southern polar continent. Priced at €1,200 (Euros, or approximate U.S. equivalent of $1,761).

Item 35 offers an eyewitness account of many arctic travels: Memoirs of Hans Hendrik, the Arctic Traveller, serving under Kane, Hayes, Hall and Nares 1853-1876. Despite the Dutch name, Hendrik was a Greenland Eskimo who provided essential services to several explorers less familiar with Arctic terrain than he. His hunting skills were invaluable in feeding the expeditions, and he also was skilled at running the dog sleds. This 1878 book was translated from the Eskimo language by Dr. Henry Rink, the foremost Danish expert on Greenland at the time. €2,400 ($3,522).

Item 12 is British explorer Richard Burton's report on his 1856 journey to Zanzibar and the east coast of Africa. This travel preceded his best-known expedition with Speke of the following year, which would lead to the discovery of the source of the Nile. Though this journey took place in 1856-57, Burton did not get around to publishing the account until 1872. His explanation was that the government lost his manuscript report for years before finally locating and returning it. The two-volume report is entitled Zanzibar; City, Island, and Coast. €2,700 (US $3,961).

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