Voyages and Travels from Hordern House
Voyages, Travel and Natural History from Hordern House.
By Michael Stillman
Hordern House has released its catalogue of Acquisitions July 2005 - Voyages and Travels, Natural History. Hordern House is an Australian bookseller, and naturally, they are an excellent resource for those with collections involving that southern continent. However, most of these voyages and travels started elsewhere, and many had stopping points in many other lands, so this is hardly just an Australian catalogue. In fact, there are numerous items of Americana as well as European works, and Australia may be just the right place to find some of these uncommon items. Here are a few of the books you will find at Hordern House.
Hordern describes item 41 as "the last great voyage of Australian coastal discovery." The book is John Lort Stokes' Discoveries in Australia; with an Account of the Coasts and Rivers Explored and Surveyed during the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle... This is a two-volume set published in London in 1846. Stokes served for 18 years on the Beagle, which spent the years 1837-1843 surveying the northwest coast of Australia, as well as charting rivers and at times serving as base for inland explorations. However, if you seem to recall this ship as being notable for another reason, you are right. Prior to its Australian adventures, the Beagle had journeyed to South America, where its most famous passenger, Charles Darwin, made the observations which would lead to his theory of evolution. Stokes had served with Darwin during those years. Priced at $7,750 Australian (US dollar equivalent of $5,750).
The Wilkes Expedition, which visited Antarctica, Australia, the Hawaiian and Philippine Islands, and the west coast of the U.S., was a an important source of pride for America. Its exploration of the Antarctic, in particular, for the first time showed America capable of launching serious expeditions. The 19-volume official journal of this expedition was prohibitively expensive for most people, but Joseph Clark wrote a history within the reach of average readers, Lights and Shadows of Sailor Life, as exemplified in fifteen years' experience, including the more thrilling events of the U.S. Exploring Expedition... It includes a description of Clark's narrow escape from an attack by Fiji natives which cost two sailors' lives. Item 51 is an 1848 second edition of this scarce narrative. $325 (US $241).
As long as we're on Americana, here is an uncommon California Gold Rush item. It is Journal of a Voyage to California, and Life in the Gold Diggings, and also of a Voyage from California to the Sandwich Island, by Albert Lyman. This 1852 Hartford imprint tells of a trip around the "Horn" in the General Morgan, which was bringing representatives of the Connecticut Mining and Trading Company. However, on their arrival in California, the entire crew deserted, leaving Lyman and his companions to find a new crew. Lyman was not successful in finding gold, but he did get to visit Hawaii, and he tells about this adventure as well. Item 22. $3,750 (US $2,782).
Voyages and Travels from Hordern House
Winged People from The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins.
Item 24 is an interesting Concord, New Hampshire, chapbook from 1843: The Sailor Boy, or the First and Last Voyage of Little Andrew. Andrew sailed from New Hampshire to Tobago, but on his return trip, the ship was wrecked. Not to worry. Little Andrew and his pet parrot and monkey make it back safely. $385 ($285).
Item 14 is Francois Depons' A Voyage to the Eastern Part of Terra Firma, or the Spanish Main, in South America...This is the first English edition of the history of this early 19th century expedition, published in New York in 1806. The focus is on Venezuela, where Depons was stationed on behalf of the French government. But, this work has an extra Americana connection. This English translation, attributed to "a gentleman," was actually the first published work of Washington Irving. $2,250 (US $1,669).
Here is a very unusual travel adventure: The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins, a Cornish Man: Relating particularly, his Shipwreck near the South Pole; his Wonderful Passage thro' a Subterraneous Cavern into a kind of New World, his Meeting there with a Gawry or Flying Woman... One suspects that author Robert Paltock did not do a lot of voyaging, but that he had a very good imagination. This is a 1751 first edition of a book that went on to be very popular in its time. Eventually, our hero, Peter Wilkins, saves one of these winged women and marries her. This book sounds perfect for a television series. Item 28. $8,400 (US $6,232).
Item 15 was the book that answered perhaps the greatest of all voyage mysteries. This is the first French edition of Peter Dillon's book, Voyage aux Iles de la Mer Sud, en 1827 et 1828, et Relation de la Decouverte de Sort de La Perouse. La Perouse was a French voyager, who set sail in 1785, and during the next three years made many stops, including South America, Alaska, Russia, and numerous islands in between. In 1787, he received instructions from the French to visit the British settlements in Australia. He had a friendly visit at Botany Bay in early 1788, and then set sail for islands to the west. He was never heard from again. Expeditions were sent to Australia to find him, but none turned up a trace. It was not until forty tears later when British trader Peter Dillon stumbled across a silver sword shown him by some Solomon Islanders that he began to put things together. Dillon would eventually locate more artifacts from Perouse's ships, solving the mystery of what had become of them. This book presented his findings to La Perouse's fellow Frenchmen $3,400 (US $2,522).
Hordern House may be easily reached by those living in the Northern Hemisphere (or elsewhere) online at www.hordern.com. Their phone number is (02) 9356 4411.