Travel from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books has issued their Catalogue 139 Travel. Bestebreurtje is located in the Netherlands, but nevertheless this catalogue contains much material related to America and England. Dutch, English and French are the languages that predominate. Those, like this writer, who speak English but not much else, will have no problems here as the descriptions are written in English (even for the Dutch works). Along with travel, the catalogue includes sections on ephemera and historical prints. We will focus primarily on those items with a connection to America, but there are lots of items pertaining to travels to the Middle East, India and Asia, including the longtime Dutch colony in Indonesia.
Item 120 is one of two great works from a man who was as remarkable as he was unfortunate. Georgius Rumphius sailed to Batavia (in today's Indonesia) as a midshipman for the Dutch East India Company in 1653. However, within a few years, he transferred to Ambon Island where he began undertaking massive studies of the area's natural history. He would produce this book, D'Amboinsche rariteitkamer... and another, but it would be a long, arduous project he would not live to see completed. In 1670, Rumphius became blind, but with the help of an assistant, he pushed on. In 1674, his wife and child were killed in an earthquake, yet he persevered. Then, in 1687, his manuscript and drawings were destroyed in a fire, requiring him to start over. When his book was finally reproduced and sent back to the Netherlands, the ship sank. Fortunately, he kept a copy. However, publication was delayed because the Dutch East India Company found some information sensitive. It was finally published in 1705. Unfortunately, Rumphius died in 1702. Offered is a copy of the 1740 edition of this book. Priced at €3,450 (euros, or approximately $5,051 is U.S. dollars).
Item 1 is Henry Ward Beecher: a sketch of his career, by Lyman Abbott and S.B. Halliday. It was published in 1887, the year in which the popular American preacher died. Write the authors, "It cannot be questioned that no man has exerted so wide and profound an influence on the progress of thought - moral, political and religious - in this country for the past fifty years, as has Mr. Beecher." Perhaps no man, but it could be argued his sister, Harriett Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, was more influential. Nevertheless, the fiery New York abolitionist preacher and defender of various progressive causes was a major American figure in the 19th century. €125 (US $183).
Obviously, not everyone shared Beecher's vehemently anti-slavery beliefs. Here is a book by a notable English soldier who was favorably inclined toward the practice: Transatlantic Sketches: comprising visits to the most Interesting Scenes in North & South America & West Indies. With notes on negro slavery and Canadian emigration. Author James Edward Alexander served in numerous wars and expeditions in the British military through over a half century of service, retiring as a major-general. In 1833, he published this book on his visit to America. Alexander offers his observations on life on many of the islands of the West Indies, the Mississippi and St. Lawrence Valleys, and the eastern part of the U.S. He opposes sudden emancipation and argues that the plantation owners have not been given a fair hearing. Item 4. €975 (US $1,426).
However, a different opinion on slavery is expressed in the print shown on the cover of this catalogue. Printed in London in 1853, it depicts a group of former slaves celebrating their freedom. It includes the wording, To the Friends of Negro Emancipation, This Print Is Inscribed. Item 42. €495 (US $723).
Item 193 is The American Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, published in London in 1876. This includes 32 engravings on 11 leaves that were published in The Graphic, a London weekly newspaper noted for its illustrations. This contains illustrations from America's first major exposition, celebrating the 100th birthday of the Declaration of Independence. An estimated 10 million people attended. Numerous scenes inside the fair are shown. €295 (US $431).
Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books may be reached at +31 (0)347 322 548 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.gertjanbestebreurtje.com.