Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2008 Issue

Navigation and Travel Manuscripts from the William Reese Co.

Reesenav

Navigation Manuscripts from the William Reese Company.


By Michael Stillman

The William Reese Company has presented a list of items that will appeal to those fascinated by the day-to-day life of those at sea in the 19th and earlier centuries. These are not the official accounts of the great voyages of discovery, but mostly the journals of ordinary seamen, lower ranking officers, and simple travelers. They give a look at life at sea as it actually was, for some, quite pleasant, for others barely tolerable. By today's standards, these journeys would have been at best difficult, but no one expected the comforts we do today. Then again, the airlines are doing their best to return travel to the comfort level travelers experienced in the 18th and 19th centuries. The title of Reese's list is Navigation Manuscripts: Logs, Ship's Papers, Journals, Watercolors, Letters, Recollections and Histories. Here are a few.

In the days before the transcontinental railroad, the only was of crossing the continent, other than by foot, was going all the way around the tip of South America. The unnamed traveler who kept the journal offered as item 6 did just that, leaving on October 24, 1860. Anyone who has ever experienced the misery of seasickness will sympathize with his plight. "I was visited by the horror of horrors to all landlubbers at sea this morning," he writes. "My feelings are indescribable; was advised to eat, but could not; to exercise, but was too weak; the cabin was too close, the deck too cool; was finally obliged to seek a sheltered nook on the quarter-deck." For 105 days they sailed, suffering stifling heat as they passed through the equator, snow and hail as they rounded Cape Horn. Life on board until they reached San Francisco in February is thoroughly described. Additionally, a second manuscript describes a weeklong journey in California, where he visited the state capital in Sacramento, Stockton, and some gold mines. He comments favorably on the streets of Sacramento, where, unlike San Francisco, planks allow you to walk over the puddles of mud in the middle of the streets. Priced at $2,750.

The preceding voyage was a pleasure compared to this 1705-06 French journey. Item 19 is a manuscript account in French, Memoire ou Journal... by Mr. Malescot de Coulomiers. He sailed on the ironically named Faucon Anglois (English Falcon) on a journey of unknown purpose, but likely privateering. Malescot did not wish to go on this trip, noting "everyone speaks so unfavorably" of it, but was ordered to participate by his superior. Undoubtedly this would have started him off on the wrong foot, so it is no wonder that his journal, evidently prepared as a report for his boss, is so negative. Malescot describes the incompetence of their captain, Mr. Petit, and the insubordination and rebelliousness of his crew. Petit is pictured as indecisive and afraid of the crew. He launches treacherous and unprovoked attacks on local tribes along the African coast, later seizing a Danish ship, although their nations were not at war, because he believed it held gold. Meanwhile, a member of his crew, hoping to find the gold, ignites the ship's magazine, blowing it up and killing many on board. As bad as this voyage was, Reese notes, "it is probably more representative of such 18th-century seafaring ventures than most polite narratives." $20,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>November 12-13, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> MACHIAVELLI, Niccolò. <i>Nicholas Machiavel's Prince. Also, The life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca…</i> Translated by Edward Dacres. London, 1640. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> FILSON, John. <i>The Discovery, Settlement and present State of Kentucke: and An Essay towards the Topography, and Natural History of that important Country…</i> Wilmington, Del.: James Adams, 1784. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> ELUARD, Paul. <i>Un poeme dans chaque livre.</i> Paris: Louis Broder, 1956. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>November 12-13, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> LEWIS, James Otto. [<i>Aboriginal Port Folio.</i> Philadelphia: Published by the Author, 1835-1836]. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> [ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS]. BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin. [Southern Netherlands (Ghent or Bruges), c.1460]. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> MORE, Thomas, Sir. <i>The Workes ... wrytten by him in the Englysh tongue.</i> Edited by William Rastell. London, 1557. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>November 12-13, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. MORRIS, William. <i>Love is Enough.</i> Hammersmith: The Kelmscott Press, 1897. $5,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph endorsement signed as President (“A. Lincoln”), 24 February 1863. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> WASHINGTON, George. Address panel with autograph free frank signed ("G:o Washington"), as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, 5 August 1777. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>November 12-13, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> GOREY, Edward. <i>The Beastly Baby.</i> N.p.: The Fantod Press, 1962. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> FROST, Robert. Photographic reproduction signed and inscribed ("Robert Frost”), to R.V. Thornton, 1955. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 12-13:</b> GOREY, Edward. <i>The Bug Book.</i> New York: Looking Glass Library, 1959. $500 to $700.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 27:</b> Book of Hours with Illuminated Miniatures, France, mid-15th century. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 27:</b> Conradus de Alemania [Halberstadt the Elder], <i>Concordantiae Bibliorum,</i> Strassburg, 1474. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 27:</b> Christopher Marlowe, <i>The Jew of Malta,</i> London, 1633. Earliest extant edition of this antiauthoritarian Elizabethan play. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 27:</b><br>Sir Isaac Newton, <i>The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,</i> first edition in English, 2 volumes, London, 1729. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 27:</b> John Rae, <i>Narrative of an Expedition to the Shores of the Arctic Sea in 1846 and 1847,</i> first edition, London, 1850. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 27:</b> Philip Pittman, <i>The Present State of the European Settlements on the Mississippi…,</i> first edition, London, 1770. $10,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 27:</b> Cyanotype of an anatomy class at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1895. $300 to $400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 27:</b> Equine veterinary formulary, manuscript on paper, East Earl, Pennsylvania, circa 1860. $400 to $600.
  • <b>Christie’s, Nov 3 :</b> REGAMEY, Felix (1844-1906). Unique drawing showing Verlaine and Rimbaud in London, September 1872. €70,000 to 100,000
    <b>Christie’s, Nov 3 :</b> LABORDE, Alexandre de (1773-1842). <i>Voyage pittoresque et historique de l’Espagne.</i> Paris : 1806-1820. €20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Christie’s, Nov 3 :</b> BOCCACE, Jean (1313-1375). <i>Il Decamerone…</i> Venise : Gabriele Giolito di Ferrari, 1542.<br>€ 12,000 to 15,000
    <b>Christie’s, Nov 3 :</b> LAMBERT, Yvon (1936). Full collection of writings from <i>Une rêverie émanée de mes loisirs.</i> Paris : 1992 - 2018. €50,000 to 70,000
    <b>Christie’s, Nov 3 :</b> JOUVE, Paul (1878-1973) -- KIPLING, Rudyard (1865-1936). <i>La Chasse de Kaa.</i> Paris : Javal & Bourdeaux, 1930. €2,000 to 3,000

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions