Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2008 Issue

Africa and Explorer Richard Burton from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

Burton

Africa and explorer Richard Burton from Bernard Shapero.


By Michael Stillman

Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
has created a catalogue for collectors of Africa and the travels of British explorer Richard Burton. The title is Books by Sir Richard Burton together with a selection of books on Africa, from a private collection. Offered are 57 titles, all bound in green half morocco gilt, with marbled board and edges. They were apparently so bound for British bookseller Henry Sotheran in the 1920s.

Burton was one of the greatest of explorers, both for the significance of the discoveries he made and knowledge he brought back, and for the sheer volume of his travels. His most notable trips brought him to the Middle East and Africa, but he traveled all over the world, to India, the Americas, even Iceland. Later in life, he would also serve as a British diplomat in foreign outposts. He was something of a rogue, unafraid to tackle such controversial subjects as the sexual practices of the peoples he visited (not terribly appropriate in Victorian England), and not unwilling to enter heated debates, most notably with his one-time partner and fellow explorer John Speke. Burton questioned Speke's claim to having discovered the source of the Nile at Lake Victoria (Speke was later vindicated), but Speke died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound the day before their planned debate. It is unknown whether the shot was intentional or accidental. Ironically enough, Burton, who was severely limited on their joint travels by ill-health, outlived Speke by a quarter century and went on to conduct many more expeditions. Among his most notable achievements were the discovery of Lake Tanganyika, and being the first non-Moslem European to conduct a well-documented pilgrimage to Mecca.

Item 5 is a copy of Burton's first book, Goa, and the Blue Mountains; or, six months of sick leave. Burton had served with the military in India during the 1840s, so he was well-equipped to write about the Goa region while on leave. This 1851 title would be the first of a great many books he would write over the next four decades. Priced at £1,250 (British pounds, or approximately $2,450 in U.S. dollars).

Item 14 is one of his greatest works, Burton's account of his travel in disguise: Personal narrative of a pilgrimage of El-Medinah and Meccah. Burton had deeply immersed himself in local culture in his years in the military, and proved to have an uncanny ability to become thoroughly familiar with local cultures and languages and adapt to them. He undertook the Hajj, a sacred journey to Mecca forbidden to non-Muslims, disguised as a Moslem Afghan tribesman in 1853, publishing this account two years later. £4,000 (US $7,840).

Following his strenuous journey to Africa, and tired from his ongoing dispute with Speke, Burton took an American vacation shortly before that nation's Civil War. Naturally, he headed towards America's more remote regions, writing about it in 1861 in The City of the Saints and across the Rocky Mountains to California. Among his most notable stops was Salt Lake, where he met with Brigham Young. Controversial as always, Burton brought on his share of condemnation for his liberal attitude toward the Mormons and the still active practice of polygamy. Item 2. £750 (US $1,470).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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