Rare Book Monthly
Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2009 Issue
Arctic and Canadiana from Bjarne Tokerud
By Michael Stillman
Bjarne Tokerud Bookseller has issued a new catalogue of the Arctic and Canadiana. The catalogue is filled with accounts of explorations and adventures in places ranging from challenging to downright inhospitable. It makes a great read during the dog days of summer, when the cold of the Arctic and northern Canada almost sounds inviting. Of course, it isn't, which is why these adventures are so exciting from the comfort of our summertime homes. Here are a few of the items on tap for this month's adventures into the frozen north.
Englishman William Parry was one of the greatest of northern explorers. He headed three attempts to find a northwest passage, as well as participating on an earlier attempt by Sir John Ross. He never found it, but did much to map and explore the seas north of the Canadian mainland. A separate journey from Spitsbergen to reach the North Pole similarly was not a success, though it did take him farther north than any explorer before him. Parry is noted not only for his discoveries, but his great attentiveness to the needs and comfort of his crew under inevitably trying circumstances. Item 55 is his Journal of a Second Voyage for the Discovery of a North-West Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, published in 1824. Priced at $1,800.
Parry's voyages may not have achieved total success, but at least he returned to tell about them. Not so American explorer George DeLong. DeLong set out from California under the auspices of the U.S. Navy to find a route to the North Pole. His ship got trapped in sea ice well short of his destination. The men escaped in three small boats, one of which was lost, one of which was rescued, and the third of which reached the Siberian coast. DeLong was with the third group. Outside of two scouts sent to look for help, all of the crewmen who made it to Siberia, DeLong included, died while awaiting rescue. Item 24 was prepared from DeLong's journal and the accounts of survivors: The Voyage of the Jeannette, the ship and ice journals of George W. DeLong. Edited by his wife, Emma DeLong, published in 1884. $300.
One of the great early 19th century explorations was that of Adam Johann von Krusenstern, perhaps not that well known in the West as it was conducted under the Russian flag. It was the first Russian circumnavigation, with stops in South America, California, Hawaii, China and Japan, as well as the northeastern portions of Russia, which included Alaska at the time. The purpose of the trip was both exploration of the various locations and setting up of trade, particularly the fur trade between North America and China. Item 3 is the first English edition of Krusenstern's Voyage Round the World, in the Years 1803...1806, by Order of His Imperial Majesty Alexander the First... $22,000.