A "Special Catalogue" from Hordern House
A special catalogue from Hordern House.
By Michael Stillman
Hordern House recently published their 2009 Special Catalogue, a conclusion to a year perhaps less special than this catalogue. Despite only containing 34 items, Hordern House still managed to come up with a large, thick catalogue. Their catalogues are always special, befitting the works they offer. These are some samples.
If you ever do a word association for the word "mutiny," almost certainly the first one to come to mind is Bounty. And after that, it's probably its dour captain, William Bligh. Bligh was sent to Tahiti to gather breadfruit, the idea being to transport the fruit trees to the Caribbean as a cheap food source for slaves. Bligh gathered his crop, but shortly thereafter, many of his crewmen mutineed. They spoke of the unpleasantness of working under Bligh's command, though he was probably less abusive, at least physically, than many captains of his era. More likely, they liked the leisure and women of Tahiti, and decided this offered a more rewarding lifestyle than the cold and damp of London. The blow to Bligh's reputation caused by the mutiny, however, was more than balanced by his marvelous feat of leading the longboat on which he and those loyal to him were cast 4,000 miles to safety. Along the way, he even managed to first chart part of Australia's northern coast. Item 4 is Bligh's A Narrative of the Mutiny, on Board His Majesty's Ship Bounty, the Captain's first account of the incident published in 1790. Bligh wanted to get his side out before the court martial of the mutineers was heard, to absolve himself of all blame. Priced at AU $23,500 (Australian dollars, or roughly $21,485 in U.S. dollars). Item 5 is the more detailed and corrected account Bligh published in 1792 when he was less rushed: A Voyage to the South Sea, undertaken by Command of His Majesty, for the purpose of conveying the Bread-fruit Tree to the West Indies, in His Majesty's Ship Bounty... AU $22,000 (US $20,112).
George Anson didn't have to deal with a mutiny, but he did have deserters. Item 1 is a letter Anson sent to a commissioner of the Royal Navy in Plymouth in 1746, requesting he apprehend and court martial two men who deserted his ship in port. Anson had sailed into Plymouth as much of his crew was sickly and his ships foul. No wonder they deserted. Or perhaps they were aware that Anson had accomplished a circumnavigation a few years earlier which had made him rich, but that most of his men had died of disease and shipwreck along the way. AU $8,850 (US $8,090).
Item 11 is a compilation of discoveries published in two volumes from 1770-71 by Alexander Dalrymple: An Historical Collection of the Several Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean. This work represented the state of knowledge of the area when James Cook set out on the first of his three voyages. Dalrymple was a firm believer in the existence of a huge southern continent, a belief he promoted through this collection of voyages. Dalrymple had hoped to lead the expedition to the South Pacific, but when he held out for an admiralty commission, the call went to Cook instead. Adding insult to injury, Cook eventually disproved the large continent theory by sailing through what was supposed to be part of its body. Nevertheless, Dalrymple went on to have a long and illustrious career, while Cook paid for his good fortune by being killed on Hawaii by unhappy natives in the prime of life. AU $28,250 (US $25,824).
A "Special Catalogue" from Hordern House
The King and Queen of Hawaii were depicted in a less than flattering manner.
Speaking of Captain Cook, item 10 is a note written by him circa 1765 when he was still charting the coast of Newfoundland. He wrote information about the local tides on the back of a letter he received from his friend John Caddy dated October 25, 1765. Caddy was requesting Cook bring him back "two kentles of fish" (about 440 pounds). Paper was evidently short onboard Cook's ship so he jotted his observations on the back of Caddy's letter. AU $85,000 (US $77,678).
Item 16 is John Gould's spectacular three-volume, imperial folio The Mammals of Australia. Gould is best known as an ornithologist, and he traveled to Australia in 1838 primarily to collect and observe its birds. However, he was amazed by the mammalian life he found there. After returning to London in 1840, he began work on his book on Australian birds, but once that was mostly complete, he began this publication on its mammals. These three volumes were published from 1845-1863, and they contain 182 hand-colored lithograph plates. AU $295,000 (US $269,550).
In 1824, the King and Queen of Hawaii paid a visit to England. It must have been cultural shock to both sides, but the visitors were treated like royalty, as well they should be. King Kamehameha and Queen Kamamalu visited Westminster Abbey and were guests in the royal box at the Drury Lane theater. However, as the cartoon above shows (click the thumbnail image to enlarge), not everyone in England treated the royal couple respectfully. The image, published by S.W. Fores on June 16, 1824, is captioned, Robeing Royalty, a treat for the Sandwichers, at the sign of the Hog in Armour. It would prove even more tasteless when the King and Queen and their entourage all died within a month, victims of measles for which they had no immunity. Item 18. AU 13,500 (US $12,327).
You may reach Hordern House at +61 (0) 2 9356 4411 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is found at www.hordern.com.