Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2018 Issue

The History of Jamaica 1494-1838 by Thibault Ehrengardt – This Book Captures Its Tragedy, Brutality, Pirates, Revolts, and Earthquake, All Sweetened by a Massive Dose of Sugar

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History of Jamaica by Thibault Ehrengardt.

Many of our readers have been enjoying and learning from the essays written by our French correspondent, Thibault Ehrengardt. Enhrengardt writes of both events current in the book world and reviews of antiquarian works from his homeland. Certainly, one of the most notable learnings from these old works is how fortunate we all are not to have lived in the 18th century. We may see France as a sophisticated, liberal and enlightened country today. That was not always the case.

 

What you may not know is that M. Ehrengardt has written numerous books. Perhaps his favorite subject is not France, but Jamaica. That may seem surprising. Jamaica was once Spanish, once British, but was never a French colony. Nevertheless, if you have an abiding love of reggae music, you are not going to find its roots in Algeria, nor even Haiti. That can only take you to Jamaica, a journey Ehrengardt has made many times. Ehrengardt ran a European magazine on reggae music a few years back. What he learned while there extended far beyond the borders of modern Jamaican music. He learned enough to write a history of Jamaica, at least three and a half centuries worth of it through 1838. While naturally it is available in French, it is also now available in English. Ehrengardt can write fluidly in either language, two more than many of us can.

 

The title of Ehrengardt's book is The History of Jamaica from 1494 to 1838. The year 1494 was a major turning point in Jamaican history. The land had been settled a few millennia earlier by the Arawak or Taino people, traveling from the South American mainland. They had settled villages throughout the island, primarily near the coast. All that changed with the arrival of Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1494. Columbus would bring with him killing, brutality, forced labor, and disease. Welcome to the civilized world. So began the colonial era. The natives were practically wiped out within a few decades. With the addition of slaves forced from Africa, a new native population would arise.

 

Jamaica would not become a major colony for the Spanish. She controlled most of South America, Central America, and southern North America. Portugal got Brazil, Britain and France got the rest of North America and a few crumbs. The remainder was Spanish. Jamaica was just a drop in the bucket. Some settlers arrived, and of course there were slaves, but Jamaica was not a major Spanish colony. In 1655, the British attacked Hispaniola, hoping to seize that large island from the Spanish. They failed. It was too well defended, and they suffered an ignominious defeat. They needed to do something to save face, so they turned to the poorly defended island of Jamaica. There, they were successful.

 

The British period would be noted for sugar, slaves, and pirates. The early part would feature the colony as a haven for pirates, often made "privateers," working with the cooperation of the British government. Jamaica was a safe port. In return, the privateers protected the colony from the Spanish and gave some of the loot they stole to the crown. As this behavior became less acceptable internationally, the British brought in slaves, quite literally by the boat load, to work the sugar plantations. In time this too became socially unacceptable. First, Britain banned the slave trade, and later, slavery itself. In 1838, the year this history ends, the slaves were granted their freedom.

 

That is the condensed version of the history of Jamaica from 1494-1838. For the details, you will need to see the book. Henry Morgan and his fellow "respectable" pirates, the terrible Port Royal earthquake of 1692, and the many attempted slave uprisings dot the landscape. Plantation owners, descending to the depths of the brutality their system produced, use newer African slaves to fight the descendants of previously freed Spanish slaves, the Maroons. Little good ever came of slavery. For Jamaica, its sugar produced a bitter aftertaste.

 

Rather than taking the latest history and moving on from there, Ehrengardt turns to the original sources, books and manuscripts written by contemporaries centuries ago. As readers of his articles here well know, Ehrengardt's strength is in digging up old and forgotten sources to bring their times back to life. As an outsider, from a country that was never intimately involved in the country's life, he is able to tell the stories of the many participants free from the influence of personal connection. It has been a long time since the history of Jamaica was written in the neutral country of France, the last such book going back to 1751. This book is definitely due.

 

You can purchase The History of Jamaica from 1494 to 1838 on Amazon. Here is a link:  Jamaica. If you search Thibault Ehrengardt's name, you will also find two other titles concerning more recent events in Jamaica by the author available on Amazon, The Gangs of Jamaica and Jamaican Greats. Meanwhile, Ehrengardt is finishing up a new book, and this one takes us to Paris rather than Jamaica. It is based on Le Tableau de Paris, by Louis-Sébastien Mercier. It was published in 1780 and provides a look at the seamy side of Paris in the days before the Revolution. For a teaser of what is to come, you can see two articles Ehrengardt wrote for Rare Book Monthly on Mercier and his book. Click here and here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Cartwright (George). <i>A Journal of Transactions and Events, during a Residence of nearly Sixteen Years on the Coast of Labrador...,</i> first edition, with A.L.s. from the author, 1792. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Swift (Jonathan). <i>Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World,</i> 2 vol., first edition, Teerink's "A" edition, Printed for Benj. Motte, 1726. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Fourier (Jean Baptiste Joseph). <i>Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur,</i> first edition, Paris, chez Firmin Didot, 1822. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Genealogiae Deorum,</i> additions by Dominicus Silvester and Raphael Zovenzonius, Venice, Vindelinus de Spira, 1472. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Mary I. Letter signed at the head "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, 1 page, 7th June 1556. The recall from exile of nine persons opposed to the Marian regime. £10,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Nelson (Horatio). Autograph Letter signed "Horatio Nelson" and written to Francis Drake, British Minister at Genoa, discussing the disposition of his "Cruizers" near Genoa. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Darwin (Charles). Unpublished Autograph Letter signed to Walter Raleigh Browne, playing down his scientific knowledge of comparative anatomy, 1881. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Murphew (J.). <i>The fair in an uproar, or, the dancing-doggs.</i> As they perform in Mr. Pinkeman's New Opera in Bartholomew Fair, 1707. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Chaucer (Geoffrey). <i>The Workes,</i> by [Nicholas Hill for] Thomas Petit, dwellyng in Paules churche yarde at the sygne of the Maydens heed, 1550. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Austen (Jane). <i>Emma: A Novel,</i> 3 vol., first edition, 1816. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>Stamboul Train,</i> first edition, first issue, 1932. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Churchill.- Fearon (Percy Hutton) "Poy". “Eat More Beef,” pen and ink cartoon with shading in blue pencil, [July 1928]. £400 to £600
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000

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