Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2017 Issue

Central Asia from Shapero Rare Books


Central Asia.

Shapero Rare Books has published a catalogue entitled Pushing the Boundaries Central Asia: From the Southern Provinces of Russia to the Sea. Most of these are travel books. Englishmen and Europeans write of their journeys to Central Asia. Some were more exploratory in nature, but others were accounts of people who simply had to get from one place to another at a time when the journey itself was an adventure worthy of writing a book. Shapero being an English bookseller, the largest group of books are English and many of those relate to trips to India when that large territory was a British colony. There is also a selection of Russian books, trips within the homeland by Russian writers, but we will not describe them in detail as they have cyrillic titles. Here, now, are a few samples from this new catalogue.


Jean-Baptiste Chappe d'Auteroche was a French explorer noted for his voyages to view the transit of Venus. The transit is when Venus passes in front of the sun, and from it, it is possible to compute the distance from earth to Venus if the transit is observed from various locations. From this, it can further be computed the distance between the various planets and their distances from the sun. At the time, astronomers knew the relative positions of the planets, but had no real idea of what the size of the solar system was. However, transits are rare events, and follow an unusual cycle. They occur eight years apart, but the next two come over 100 years apart. The result is that when astronomers knew there would be two in the 1760s, they had to act right away. Chappe is best known for his voyage to Baja California to view the second of the pair, which occurred in 1769. He made it just in time, only to die of disease two days later. Less well known is he also went to see the first in 1761, watching it from Siberia. Item 34 is his account of the 1761 trip, Voyage en Sibérie, fait par ordre du Roi en 1761... published in 1768. This is not a book merely about the transit but one of the best descriptions of the people and resources of Siberia. Chappe describes the climate, fauna, minerals and more about the land, along with providing his sociological commentary. It was not very complimentary about Russian customs, which reportedly angered Catherine the Great. The second part of the book contains the first complete English, or any European language translation of an early book by Russian explorer Krashenninikov, which describes Kamchatka along with much material on Alaska and the northwest coast of America. The book also contains numerous plates and maps. Priced at £10,000 (British pounds, or approximately $13,166 U.S. dollars).


Here is a book by another long ago visitor to Siberia who also went for a specific research purpose, but ended up telling us about the land and its people. Adolph Erman accompanied the Norwegian expedition to Russia and Siberia in 1828. He went there to observe the geography, and in particular, the terrestrial magnetism. Item 50 is the first English edition of his account published in 1848, Travels in Siberia: Including Excursions Northwards, Down the Obi, to the Polar Circle, and Southwards, to the Chinese Frontier. Erman continued on alone farther than the expedition, eventually circling the globe by sailing the Pacific via South America. £850 (US $1,120).


Afghanistan has long been a crossroads between East and West, and not a good one. It has been the source of numerous wars between Russia and the West as each sought influence in Central Asia. In the 1980s, we were effectively at war with the Russians by supporting their local opponents. Today, we are not fighting the Russians, but certain local opponents combined with extremist Islamic groups. These wars rarely end well or for long, and America has avoided a bad ending this time by prolonging the battle indefinitely. James Atkinson accompanied the British in their first of three Afghan wars as a surgeon. He did bring back something positive. He was also an artist and he produced the artwork for this book, Sketches of Afghaunistan, published in 1842. He drew these pictures on the march to Kabul. Atkinson returned home in 1841 and it proved to be an incredibly fortunate move. The following year, 16,000 British soldiers and civilians were killed crossing the high mountains in an attempt to escape from Kabul. Item 20 is one of the rare deluxe copies with the hand-colored lithographs mounted on card stock. £30,000 (US $39,569).


Here is a book that describes the big power rivalries in Asia during the 19th century, England and Russia in Central Asia. It was published in 1879. The author was Demetrius Charles Boulger, a noted British scholar concerning Asia and the Middle East. Those two nations were constantly vying for power along the northern border of India, which is why the British kept getting into wars in Afghanistan. They wanted to prevent the Russians from getting too close to the border of their Indian colony. Item 26. £2,500 (US $3,300).


Next up we have an account of a Residence of Eight Years in Persia. The author was Justin Perkins, the "Apostle of Persia." Perkins, a Presbyterian minister, was sent to Persia in 1833 as a missionary by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He was the first American missionary to the region. Perkins remained there for over three decades. It was a hard life, six of his seven children dying of disease in Persia, but still he soldiered on, building schools and medical facilities for the locals as well as ministering to them. Though Persia was a Moslem land, Perkins worked with a small remnant Christian community, the Nestorians. They were descendants of a schism in the church dating back to the fifth century, when Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople, taught some doctrines unacceptable to the church. He was condemned for heresy and removed from his position. His doctrines were rejected in the West, but continued to be followed by a remnant of the Church of the East. This book was published in 1843, fairly early on in Perkins' mission. Item 86. £1,000 (US $1,320).


Shapero Rare Books may be reached at +44 207 493 0876 or rarebooks@shapero.com. Their website is www.shapero.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> George Washington, Letter Signed to General James Clinton, preparing for the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, 1778. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising to send reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Edison, Autograph Letter Signed, to Western Union President William Orton, 1878. $10,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> William, Bishop of Coventry, vellum charter granting the church of Rochdale to the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw, in Latin, 1222. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> FDR, Photograph Signed & Inscribed, framed with wood removed from the White House roof, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Dubuffet, archive including many letters written while painting in NYC, 1951-72. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autograph Letter Signed, describing the source of his patience, 1939. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Lithograph portrait of Albert Einstein by Hermann Struck, signed by both, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Letter Signed to Johann IV of Nassau, in French, 1470. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Cocteau, Autograph Letter Signed, in French, 1919. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Louis Armstrong, two Autograph Letters Signed to Erich Kauffmann, his lip salve purveyor, 1965-70. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Wernher von Braun, Autograph Letter Signed to Jonathan Cross, 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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>

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