Travels from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Antiquarian Bookseller
Travel from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje.
By Michael Stillman
Just in is the latest catalogue from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Antiquarian Bookseller and Printdealer of the Netherlands. Catalogue 130 is entitled simply Travel, although it includes what are commonly referred to as "voyages," travels by sea, as well as those overland. Unlike many of Bestebreurtje's catalogues where the bulk of the material is Dutch in origin, these works are well distributed across the nations of Europe and America. It is a diverse collection of travels and voyages that will interest collectors of many lands. Due to our own language limitations, we will focus on works offered that are in the English language, of which there are many, but there are also numerous books available in various European languages. Now for a few samples of material Bestebreurtje is currently offering.
Journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley is best known for tracking down missionary David Livingstone ("Dr. Livingstone, I presume") in 1871, but his final journey to Africa was even more dramatic. He was sent to save Emin Pasha, the German-born Egyptian Governor of Equatoria, the far southern province of the Sudan. Muslim rebels had cut the province off from Egypt, leaving Pasha isolated (though still in contact by mail). Stanley was persuaded to head up what was called the "Emin Pasha Relief Expedition." Stanley took a long and arduous route up the Congo River and through thick, tall forests through which only a limited amount of light penetrated to the surface. Hence the title of his book, In darkest Africa or the quest, rescue, and retreat of Emin, governor of Equatoria. Stanley's expedition ran from 1887 until 1889, and it took quite some time to convince Emin to leave. While Stanley returned to Europe again a hero, the loss of life was staggering, both among those who accompanied Stanley and those he encountered along the way. Item 167 is a first edition of Stanley's book, published in London in 1890. Priced at 425 (Euros, or approximate U.S. dollar equivalent of $558).
It is the sad fate of most celebrated orators, like great singers, who lived in the days before sound recording, to be mostly forgotten. Henry Ward Beecher is not totally forgotten, but his reputation no longer resounds across the land as it once did. Beecher was a clergyman in New York who fought with his compelling voice for the cause of abolition, as well as other liberal values of the day, such as women's suffrage, temperance, and other progressive causes. Thousands would attend his sermons, perhaps a forerunner to the megachurch of today. Though a clergyman, Beecher helped raise funds for rifles to be supplied for the free state cause during the fight over "Bloody Kansas," helped raise forces for the Union cause during the Civil War, and prodded Lincoln to emancipate the slaves. In the 1870s, he was charged with adultery with a parishioner's wife, and though acquitted, it would remain a cloud over his reputation. Item 3 is Henry Ward Beecher: a sketch of his career...by Lymon Abbott and S.B. Halliday, published in 1887, just after he died. In the preface, the authors state, "It cannot be questioned that no other man has exerted so wide and profound an influence on the progress of thought - moral, political and religious - in this country for the past fifty years, as has Mr. Beecher." That may be true for any man, but there was a woman who may have had an even greater influence, his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." 125 (US $164).
Travels from Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Antiquarian Bookseller
S.W. Prentice and others depart in a leaky boat to seek help.
James Edward Alexander was a British visitor to America who did not share all of Beecher's views. He visited the Caribbean, North and South America in 1831, and published his Transatlantic Sketches from London two years later. He traveled from the Mississippi valley all the way to that of the St. Lawrence during his U.S. visit, but unlike the typical European visitor of the time, he was sympathetic toward slavery. He felt that slaveholders were not being treated fairly and that sudden emancipation was a bad idea. Alexander served in various military and diplomatic posts for England, mostly overseas, through a five-decade career. Item 6. €975 (US $1,281).
If you are a collector of all editions of Robinson Crusoe, here's one you may have missed: Hikajat Robinson Crusoe... This is a rare translation of the 18th century stranded-on-an-island classic published in the Malay language in 1910. €25 (US $33).
Item 17 is an 1805 broadside celebrating the British victory a few weeks earlier in the Battle of Trafalgar. This was one of Britain's greatest naval victories ever, where their forces under Lord Nelson defeated both those of the French and Spanish. England lost no ships, though they did lose Nelson, struck by a bullet. The broadside includes a hand-colored view of the fleets as well as descriptive copy. €650 (US $854).
Item 128 is an aquatint, The Departure of S.W. Prentice... Produced in 1784, it illustrates a scene after a terrible shipwreck. The crew and passengers of the St Lawrence were cast onto a deserted island off Cape Breton on December 5, 1780. The survivors managed for several weeks in the bitter cold, but after five died, Prentice and a few others left on a small and damaged boat to seek help. They sealed leaks by pouring water on them, until the water froze to ice. They were eventually found by local Indians, who went back to rescue the others, only five of whom still survived, subsisting on the bodies of their dead companions. €1,650 (US $2,169).
Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Antiquarian Bookseller may be found online at www.gertjanbestebreurtje.com. Their telephone is +31-(0)347-322548.