Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2018 Issue

The Arctic from Patrick McGahern Books


The Arctic.

Patrick McGahern Books is offering a catalogue on the Arctic, subtitled Rare, Scarce & Interesting Antiquarian Books, Maps and Prints. McGahern is a Canadian bookseller, and most Arctic exploration, at least that conducted by the most active explorers, the English, came through Canada. The search for a northwest passage, a route to Asia that did not require going all the way around the southern tip of South America or Africa, was long a dream for them. That need was finally resolved, not by finding a navigable northwest passage but by the construction of the Panama Canal. Here are a few selections from this latest collection of the far north.


Sir John Franklin is one of the most notable of Arctic and Northwest Passage explorers, though for all the wrong reasons. He is most remembered for his final voyage, when he, his ships, and his men disappeared. It took over a decade to unravel the mystery, which, unfortunately, revealed that all had perished. However, his disappearance led to the most active time of exploration in Arctic Canada, the middle of the nineteenth century, as that is when dozens of missions, public and private, set out to find him. Most did not, but they brought back an enormous amount of new information. All of this leads us to the fact that Franklin had a career before he was lost, which is why he was in charge of his final mission in the first place. Here are accounts of two of his missions.


Franklin's expeditions were generally not a lot of fun. His first was one of the worst, exceeded only by his final one with no survivors. His first trip was mostly overland. The idea was to proceed up the Coppermine River until reaching the northern Canadian coast along the Arctic Ocean. He would then explore the coastline. He did partially achieve his goal, exploring 500 miles of coast before being forced to turn back. The problem was that they were inadequately supplied, and did not receive the degree of help they anticipated from fur trading companies and natives. The weather turned unusually harsh, and in the bad weather, the game they hoped to hunt disappeared. By the time they turned back, they were in deep trouble. In hopes of making it back sooner, they set out over uncharted territory. Food ran out, many of the men starved to death or succumbed to the cold, there was one case of murder, and Franklin became known as "the man who ate his boots." Eleven of the 20 explorers died. Item 19 is the first edition, first issue of Franklin's account of this journey, published in 1823: Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, in the years 1819, 20, 21 and 22. Priced at CA $2,800 (Canadian dollars, or approximately $2,114 U.S. dollars).


You might think Franklin would have had his fill of the Arctic after that experience, but three years later, he was back again. This was his most successful mission, not losing over half or all of his men. Here is his account, published in 1828: Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of The Polar Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827, by John Franklin, Captain. Including an Account of the Progress of a Detachment to the Eastward, by John Richardson. This time, Franklin proceeded down the Mackenzie River, west of the Coppermine. He was better supplied. From the mouth of the Mackenzie, Franklin proceeded west, hoping (unsuccessfully) to meet up with Capt. Frederick Beechey, proceeding from Point Barrow, Alaska. Franklin almost got that far. Meanwhile, Richardson traveled east, reaching the Coppermine River. In all, they explored 1,200 miles of previously uncharted coast. Item 20. CA $3,000 (US $2,267).


While Franklin was proceeding along the coast, searching for a northwest passage by land, William Parry was attempting to find such a route by boat. Unfortunately, a shipwreck cut his mission short. However, he would be back again soon, except this time he was attempting to reach the North Pole. Parry didn't find the Northwest Passage, and he didn't reach the North Pole, and yet his accomplishments were still quite remarkable. They hoped to use wheeled boats, but the wheels did not work on the broken ice. Attempting to haul the boards was also less than a success on the rough ice. Rather than the anticipated 13 miles per day, they managed only seven. Meanwhile, they discovered the ice was drifting south, further reducing their progress. They were eventually forced to turn back. However, the latitude of 82 degrees 45 minutes was the farthest north anyone had traveled up to that point, or would travel for almost another 50 years. Item 46 is Parry's account, Narrative of an Attempt to Reach the North Pole, in boats fitted for the purpose, and attached to his Majesty's ship "Hecla"... published in 1828. CA $3,500 (US $2,642).


Traveling along the Mackenzie River wasn't quite as difficult a century after Franklin, but it was no picnic either. Item 7 consists of two photographs taken circa 1930s captioned on the back, Handling Royal Mail on Mackenzie River in a Blizzard. It shows a man, a dog sled in front of him, perhaps mail sacks on board, in what are close to white-out conditions. Behind him is a Fairchild FC-2 aircraft. Airmail service into the Arctic began in 1929, and these planes were the choice for travel in remote northern areas. Still, this plane looks snowbound and it is not obvious to me how they got it out of there. CA $50 (US $37).


Item 10 is a broadside headed All About Alaska And The Klondike Gold Fields. It promotes, "A Grand Illustrated Klondike Lecture Entertainment... A most interesting and instructive lecture will be given, describing the frozen Northern Country, Its People, Their Methods of Living, the Newly Discovered Gold Fields, Their Fabulous Wealth, How to Reach Them, a Description of the Different Routes, the Expense of the Trip, etc." It was illustrated with magic lantern slides, "illuminated by an intense light, magnified by powerful lenses." It concludes, "We promise you a royal entertainment." The date and place of the lecture are blank, this being an unfilled promotional piece. It would have been printed circa 1898-1900. CA 650 (US $489).


Patrick McGahern Books may be reached at 613-230-2277 or books@mcgahernbooks.ca. Their website is www.mcgahernbooks.ca.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Adams (Richard). <i>Watership Down,</i> FIRST EDITION, author inscription on front free end paper, folded map tipped in, original boards, dust-jacket. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bowles (John). <i>Several Prospects of the Most…la Ville de Londres, avec des Remarques Historiques fort Succinctes, qui les Regardant,</i> 20 double page engraved plates only, of 23, 1724. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Auden (W.H.). <i>Our Hunting Fathers,</i> FIRST SEPARATE EDITION, 1 of 22 copies, COPY B OF 5 PRINTED ON NORMANDIE, original patterned wrappers, Cambridge, for Frederic Prokosch, 1935. £800 to £1200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Barrie (J. M.) & Attwell (Mabel Lucie, illustrator). <i>Peter Pan & Wendy,</i> FIRST EDITION, 12 chromolithograph plates, publisher's blue cloth, original printed dust jacket, [c.1920]; and 3 others (4). £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bartolozzi (Francesco). Genius Calling Forth the Fine Arts to Adorn Manufactures and Commerce; Agriculture (Husbandry Aided by Arts and Commerce), glazed and framed. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> A collection of engraved caricatures, including Gillray ([James]) Tales of Wonder!, 1802; Rowlandson (Thomas) Sports, Smock Racing, 1811;Irish Jaunting Carr, 1814. £400 to £600
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bennett (Charles H, illustrator). <i>Æsop’s Fables,</i> 1875; Buchanan (Robert). <i>Ballad Stories of the Affections,</i> [1866]; Douce (Francis), The Dance of Death, 1833. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Chinese Illustrations. A group of 6 Cantonese rice paper illustrations, depicting scenes of torture with different instruments, gouache, c.340 x 220mm, original wrapper boards preserved, [c. 1800]. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Dulac (Edmund). <i>The Queen of Romania, The Dreamer of Dreams,</i> 5 coloured plates, [1915]; and others illustrated by Edmund Dulac. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Fronth (Per). Xingu Chronicles, the portfolio, comprising 30 plates, photogravues in colours, each signed, dated and titled in pencil, each numbered 10/35, on wove paper, 790 x 600 x 60mm, 1997. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Pasternak (Boris). <i>Doctor Zhivago,</i> FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, original red publisher’s cloth, pictorial dust jacket, 4to, Collins & Harvill Press, 1958. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> 13 sepia photographs of visitors to the Thermes Nationaux d’Aix-les-Bains, c. 150 x 105mm, c.1890 (12). £300 to £400
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <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: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000

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