Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2009 Issue

The Dutch Overseas from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books

The Dutch Overseas from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books.


By Michael Stillman

Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books has issued their 138th catalogue, The Dutch Overseas. The Netherlands was a major colonial power, particularly from the 17th through the 19th century. While they gave way to other European powers fairly early on in the Americas, they remained a strong force in Asia, notably Indonesia, well into the 20th century. While the Dutch colonies in North America were short-lived, Dutch immigrants accomplished much of the early settlement of the northeastern part of what is today the United States. Many of the items in this catalogue pertain to that settlement, ranging from Delaware to New England. We will focus more on these items, of particular interest to American collectors, but this catalogue is filled with items pertaining to Dutch ventures all over the globe. Now, here are a few of these works.

Item 17 is an important genealogy of the founding families of Kings County, New York: Register in alphabetical order, of the early settlers of Kings County, Long Island, N.Y., from its first settlement by Europeans to 1700... The author/compiler is Teunis Bergen and his book was published in 1881. It includes biographical information about early settlers of this county better known to most people by the name "Brooklyn." If Wikipedia is to be believed, Brooklyn is now big enough that, if separated from New York, it would be the fourth largest city in the U.S. Priced at €225 (Euros, or approximately $301 in U.S. dollars).

Item 218 is a fourth edition, but its timing is particularly significant. In 1759, James Marriott published the first edition of The case of the Dutch ships considered. The British were at war with France at the time, the Seven Years' (or French and Indian) War. The Netherlands was neutral during this conflict, which allowed it to trade with France. This was not to Marriott's liking, so he made the case that England had the right to detain neutral ships and confiscate neutral property. His position was that the Dutch had forfeited their neutrality by trading with the French colonies. This fourth edition was published in 1778, and the timing here is clear. The neutral Dutch were again trading with a British enemy, the revolutionary colonists in America. While neutral, there was sympathy for the colonists among the Dutch who were about to enter their own war with England. The Dutch used their ability to trade freely to supply the American colonists with arms. €650 (US $871).

Item 15 comes from one of the earliest anti-slavery voices in America, Anthony Benezet. He began writing on the subject during colonial times, so his pleas and warnings were primarily directed toward the British. He formed the first anti-slavery organization in America and founded a school for black children. Offered is a copy of the 1788 "new edition" of a work first published in 1771: Some Historical Account of Guinea, Its Situation, Produce, and the General Disposition of Its Inhabitants: An Inquiry into the Rise and Progress of the Slave Trade, Its Nature and Lamentable Effects. The timing of this edition is important as the new nation in America had just adopted its constitution, and unwisely, instead of heeding Benezet's wisdom, it swept the issue of slavery under rug, leaving another generation to deal with it in a most terrible manner. €1,100 (US $1,474).

Item 272 is An account of the Cape of Good Hope; containing an historical view of the its original settlement by the Dutch, its capture by the British in 1795, and the different policy pursued there by the Dutch and British government. The author was Captain Robert Percival, and from his name, you can guess he sees any comparisons between the colonial rule of the two nations in a light more favorable to Britain. The Dutch had founded a colony at the tip of Africa in the mid-17th century, but with France occupying the Netherlands in 1795, Britain determined to take control of this critical location before the French could do so. The British returned the colony to the Batavian Republic, the French supported government of the Netherlands, in 1803, but once Napoleon began stirring up trouble in Europe, Britain again seized control, this time holding on for a century. Percival, whose book was published in 1804, during the brief return of Dutch authority, is tough on the Dutch settlers, finding them lazy, inhospitable, and of low civilization. He believed the Cape should again be a British colony, which would happen just two years later. €1,250 (US $1,675).

Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books may be reached at +31 (0)347 322 548 or info@gertjanbestebreurtje.com. Their website is www.gertjanbestebreurtje.com.

Rare Book Monthly

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