Antiquarian Books from Samuel Gedge Rare Books
Catalogue IV from Samuel Gedge Rare Books.
By Michael Stillman
Catalogue IV was recently published by British bookseller Samuel Gedge Rare Books. This catalogue includes a majority of English items, although a substantial portion of them come from the continent. There are even a few items of Americana. Numerous European languages are represented. Everything here can suitably be described as "antiquarian," as dates range from 13th century manuscripts through 19th century books. Topics are diverse, though most can be described as nonfiction (although sometimes the truth is bent to serve the writer's beliefs). These are interesting works - books, pamphlets, and manuscripts, with an occasional item of ephemera, such as an 18th century wallet or pocket sundial thrown in. Here are a few.
Item 18 is a manuscript report which includes a mention of a stop on an important scientific journey. The report comes from the small North Atlantic island of Madeira. It came from the wine-shipping firm of William Bolton & Co. to London merchant Robert Heysham. Dated February 4, 1699, it mentions the brief stop of Admiral Benbow and his four men-of-war. The newsletter notes that Benbow, off to hunt down pirates in the West Indies, did not even stop long enough for a glass of wine. Benbow was accompanying, and protecting, the Paramore, which was off for the South Atlantic under the command of astronomer and mathematician Edmond Halley, of comet fame. Halley was out to map variations in compass readings from true north. The report notes that Benbow was accompanied by "...Mr. Hally the mathematician bound to the coast of Brazil and to the southward of the Cape, his designe is to observe the variation of the compass..." Priced at £600 (or approximately $1,185 in U.S. dollars).
Here is an even more impressive manuscript. It is an Arabic-French dictionary consisting of over 300 pages. Someone put a lot of effort into this. While its specific background cannot be ascertained, it is evidently the work of a French-speaker with a solid grasp of Arabic. It was most likely created early in the 19th century, and probably in Egypt. Many French remained there engaged in trade after Napoleon's unsuccessful invasion in 1801. Item 9. £2,000 (US $3,952).
Item 67 recounts an obscure, but obviously bitter and festering dispute between a merchant and a shipper. Shipper Charles Delegal was hired by Peter Milberg in 1816 to carry some goods from Hamburg to Buenos Aires. Obviously, Milberg was not pleased by his performance, though it took him long enough to say so. In 1828, Milberg published his pamphlet, Correspondence relating to an adventure made in the year 1816, from Hamburg to Buenos Ayres, per the Carolina...under the management of Mr. Charles Delegal... Milberg accused Delegal of all sorts of inappropriate activities, including embezzlement, abusive language, and spreading false information. Delegal was none too prompt to respond, but in 1835, now almost 20 years after the incident, he published Reply to a malignant and libelous pamphlet, clandestinely circulated by Mr. Peter August Milberg... Delegal set about to refute Milberg's claims in his reply. Both of these pamphlets are very rare, as they were likely printed in very small runs. The pair is priced at £550 (US $1,087).
Antiquarian Books from Samuel Gedge Rare Books
Hero-to-be William Cumby is appointed Lieutenant.
Item 73 is a remarkable document: the appointment of a British naval hero to the post where his reputation was made. This document, dated November 3, 1804, officially appointed William Pryce Cumby to the position of Lieutenant of HMS Bellerophon (commonly called "Billy Ruffian"). This appointment would prove to be very wise when, during the Battle of Trafalgar, almost a year later, the Bellerophon would find itself trapped between enemy ships, one French, one Spanish. The French ship L'Aigle was pouring it on its British counterpart when the Bellerophon's Captain was struck and killed. In the midst of this terrible battle, full command fell to Cumby. He responded with an unlikely success, first training their full force on French sailors attempting to board his ship, successfully repelling them, and eventually managing to capture the L'Aigle. The surprising turnabout in a battle that eventually went overwhelmingly to the British made Cumby an overnight hero. He was quickly promoted and went on to have a distinguished career in the Royal Navy. £1,600 (US $3,161).
Item 23 is a broadside prospectus, or Sketch of a plan for effecting a voyage round the globe, by the route of India, China, Japan, and the Pacific Isles, for the purposes of discovery, - civilization, - and commerce, - combined. The prospectus was issued in 1830 by James Silk Buckingham, a world traveler who had spent several years publishing a newspaper in India. Buckingham noted this was a propitious time for such a voyage as the area between Asia and the Americas was the least well known to the British. It remained so for a while longer, as this voyage never took place. However, two years later, Buckingham was elected to Parliament, where he served for five years, promoting social reform. £750 (US $1,482).
Now we go to a voyage which did take place. Item 96 is a broadside advertisement For New York, Direct. To Sail Immediately. The Splendid First Class American Ship Foveran. "Splendid" would have been a relative term, because it is unlikely this ship, carrying mainly Irish and European immigrants to America in 1831, would be a vessel most of us would enjoy taking for a 35-day cruise. However, the notice promises that "accommodation for 2nd cabin and steerage passengers are very superior." £400 (US $790).
Samuel Gedge Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0)1263 722 555 or email@example.com. Their website is www.samuelgedge.com.