Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2018 Issue

Voyages & Travel from Maggs Bros. Ltd.


Voyages & Travel from Maggs Bros.

Maggs Bros. Ltd. has issued their Catalogue 1494 Voyages & Travel. Many of the journeys were those of discovery, famed explorers off to discover the world. Others were travels by individuals who could afford to do some amateur exploring on their own. Some trips had more practical purposes, such as political or religious missions. Then, of course, some involved the scourge of war. Maggs has divided the catalogue into sections based on the destination. Here they are: Africa; Egypt, the Near East & Middle East; Europe, Russia, Turkey; India, Central Asia & the Far East; Australia & the Pacific; Central & South America; North America; and Alaska & the Poles. Here are a few selections.


James P. Bryer is one of those obscure individuals who traveled for war. He was an American, from Indiana, who enlisted in 1846 to fight in the Mexican War. He was sent off to Texas to serve with Zachary Taylor's forces. Item 89 is an eight-page letter Bryer wrote on February 17, 1847. The American Army had built Fort Brown along the banks of the Rio Grande, today Brownsville, across the river from Matamoros. It was an intentional provocation by President Polk, who was looking for an excuse to seize Mexican land as part of his vision of Manifest Destiny. The U.S. claimed the Rio Grande as the border, but Mexico said the border was the Nueces River, farther north. In other words, according to Mexico, Taylor was already occupying Mexican land. For the most part, Bryer was pleased with the accommodations. He writes that they have "good, dry houses and good bunks to sleep on and we would be very comfortable if it were not for the fleas..." They did have a recent scare, though so far they had had no serious engagements. The men were awaken by the sentinel firing his rifle. They jumped out of bed and waited for more, but there were no more shots. They were told the sentinel saw a couple of men approaching and when they ignored an order to stop, he fired. They ran off. Bryer continues, "It has been reported that there are several thousand Mexican Cavalry in the neighborhood of this place but I don't believe that report is true." Bryer survived the war and became a journalist after returning home to Indiana. Priced at £1,750 (British pounds, or approximately $2,341 in U.S. dollars).


Here is another war related item, though not one written by a soldier. It is an anonymously created Geographical and Historical of the Principal Objects of the Present War, published in 1741. The text and two maps are focused on the Caribbean; the war was the bizarre War of Jenkin's Ear. For some unclear reason, the Spanish had boarded a British ship, as permitted by treaty, but sliced off the ear of its captain, Robert Jenkins. It didn't take much of an excuse in those days for the British to go to war with the Spanish or French. It describes various ports, including Cartagena, Portobello, Veracruz, Havana, and St. Augustine. It also shows the routes taken by Spanish treasure ships, and it is not hard to imagine why the British wanted to know those. The overview is clear as to the book's purpose, stating that it is designed not only to provide an account of the area, "...but also to shew the Possibility of their being subdued, and the manner in which they may be taken, by giving an Account of their Strength, and the several Sieges they have from time to time undergone." Item 76. £2,750 (US $3,686).


This item involves short travel on a river, though certainly not a voyage. It celebrates a rare event that never occurs any more. It is a round token of The Lord's Prayer, with the prayer printed in micrographic text. The token further says, "Printed on the THAMES, during the Frost Feby 5th 1814." This was the last of the Frost Fairs. On those rare occasions when the winter was so cold the Thamas froze solid, there would be a fair held on the ice. They went back to the 17th century, but after 1814, there were no more. Today the river never freezes, a consequence of climate change and faster river flow caused by the placement of bridges. Item 30. £750 (US $1,005).


Item 53 is Souvenirs de Formose et des Iles Pescadores. Octobre-Novembre 1896, by Claude Rarecourt de la Vallée Pimodan. This sounds French. Actually, it is a first and only edition of an account of a visit to Taiwan (or Formosa) and the Pescadore Islands in the Taiwan Strait in 1896 by a delegation of five Japanese officers. The territory had just been ceded to Japan at the conclusion of the First Sino-Japanese War. So why on earth is this book written in French? The answer is the five Japanese officers were accompanied by French military attaché Claude Pimodan, the author. The French had briefly occupied Taiwan and the Islands after the Sino-French War in 1885. The book documents a trip through Taiwan and to the Pescadores, and contains 26 photographic plates, likely taken by the delegation. The pictures from the Pescadores would have been particularly interesting to the French as those document the French presence. This book is very rare as it was not offered for sale, most likely meant only for French officers. £3,500 (US $4,691).


This next item is far more recent than the others, but it is significant to understanding even more recent American history. Item 15 is The Truth About Kuwait, published by the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1961. That was the year the British protectorate ended and Kuwait became an independent state. Iraq claimed that this was just a continuation of British influence, and historically, Kuwait should be controlled by Iraq. Kuwait's great oil wealth undoubtedly was an influence on this opinion. Iraq threatened invasion, but were deterred when the Arab League promised to provide military support to Kuwait. This history helps to explain why three decades later, Saddam Hussein believed he had the right to invade Kuwait, an action that quickly led to a confrontation with the United States and the Gulf War. £1,000 (US $1,340).


Maggs Bros. Ltd. may be reached at ++44 (0)20 7493 7160 or travel@maggs.com. Their website is www.maggs.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000
  • <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>
  • <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
  • <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.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions