Travel 2007 from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
Worldwide travels from the past are described in books offered by Bernard J. Shapero.
By Michael Stillman
The latest catalogue from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books of London is entitled Travel 2007. The 2007 refers only to the catalogue, as these travels took place long ago, mostly 19th century or earlier. These are accounts of trips that started in Europe, but spread from there to all around the globe. The catalogue is divided into sections based on the destinations: Africa; Americas, Pacific and Polar; Central Asia; Europe; Far East; Greece and Ottoman Empire; India and South East Asia; Middle East; and Russia. There is much in the way of adventure to be relived, inside the pages of these books, from the days when the world was much larger. Here are a few examples of what is in store.
Roald Amundsen is best known as the first person to reach the South Pole. His team arrived in December of 1911, succeeding where Robert Falcon Scott's expedition failed. Amundsen had better weather, but was also better prepared. He learned how to survive extreme cold in another, longer journey a few years earlier. In 1903, he set out to find the fabled Northwest Passage to the Pacific through the Canadian arctic seas. Locating such a shortcut had been an elusive goal of countless expeditions going all the way back to the time of Columbus. However, none succeeded until Amundsen made his way from the Atlantic to Alaska through the northern route. Still, it was not of much practical use as it took several years and his route would not have been navigable by a large ship. Nevertheless, he proved that there was such a route after centuries of unsuccessful attempts to find one. Amundsen's account of this expedition is found in the pages of The North West Passage being a record of a voyage of exploration of the ship "Gjoa" 1903-1907... Item 86 is the first British edition, published in 1908, while item 87 is a copy of the first American edition, also published in 1908. Each is priced at £850 (British pounds, or approximately $1,737 in U.S. dollars).
Captain George Francis Lyon reports on a journey to a very different part of the world in his 1821 book, A narrative of travels in northern Africa, in the years 1818, 19, and 20... Lyon had joined this British scientific mission in 1818, but when its leader died in 1819, he took over command. The expedition involved traveling around the Sahara and its extreme climate, but did not accomplish all that much. Perhaps the extreme heat was too much for Lyon, as shortly after his return, he joined Sir William Parry on his unsuccessful trip to the Arctic to find the Northwest Passage. Lyon was given command of Parry's companion ship, HMS Hecla. Item 61. £2,750 (US $5,619).
For those interested in a visual representation of India's leaders of long ago, item 312 is The rulers of India and the chiefs of Rajputana, 1550-1897. Thomas Holbein Hendley put together these portraits of various rulers, dating back to the emperor Akbar in the sixteenth century, and published them in 1897. Shapero notes that this book is also useful for understanding the costumes worn by chiefs during these various eras. £2,500 (US $5,108).
Travel 2007 from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
Ancient Indian rulers are depicted in Thomas Hendley's Rulers of India.
Afghanistan has always been a challenging land for foreign invaders. James Atkinson was a superintending surgeon with the British army when it advanced on Kabul in 1841. The British were engaged in a long-running rivalry with the Russians to control the area between Russia and their colony in India. Neither ever had much success, the Afghans being an independence-minded people who knew the difficult land far better than any foreign invaders. Atkinson's book, Sketches in Afghanistan, includes 25 tinted plates of the country from this brief period of British control. Fortunately for Atkinson, he returned to Bengal in 1841, avoiding the terrible fate of thousands of British and Indian occupiers the following year. £3,750 (US $7,662).
Lady Florentina Sale was not so fortunate as Atkinson to escape before the disastrous British retreat, and yet she was quite lucky to be one of the very few to survive. Her husband, Sir Robert Henry Sale, was off defending Jalalabad when the British were forced by rebellious Afghans to abandon Kabul. This signaled one of the most horrific of retreats ever experienced by the British. Poorly equipped and supplied, some 15,000 British, about a third from the military, primarily Indian units, and 10,000 civilians, including many women and children, marched over the frozen, snowy passes of Afghanistan in the dead of winter. Their destination was Jalalabad, 90 miles away. However, most succumbed to the bitter cold, huge snowdrifts, and constant attack by Afghans better suited for the treacherous conditions. Of the 15,000 who retreated from Kabul, only one, Dr. William Brydon, is known to have made it Jalalabad. Other than Dr. Brydon, the only survivors were a few of the Indians who hid in caves, and a few civilians taken prisoner by the Afghans and later freed. Among the latter was Lady Sale, who managed to keep a diary of her experiences. This became the basis for her account published in 1843, A journal of the disasters in Affghanistan, 1841-2. Item 163. £950 (US $1,941).
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