Maritime Books from Ten Pound Island Book Company
Maritime works from Ten Pound Island Book Company.
By Michael Stillman
Ten Pound Island Book Company has issued its Maritime List 189, Fine & Rare Books, Manuscripts, Ephemera. There isn't much that need be said to describe the type of material found in this catalogue. The word "maritime" says it all both succinctly and well. We note that Ten Pound Island has announced that this will be their final printed catalogue. Changing times have caught up with the medium. Due to increased printing and mailing costs, and the limited presentation possible with print, they will be moving to online catalogues, which allow for more thorough descriptions and the addition of color images for each item. Print presentations in the future will be limited to short title lists. While it is sad to see this traditional method of bookselling fade, and particularly for a seller who has issued 189 catalogues, technology moves forward, and those who don't go with it are likely to be left behind. Here are a few of the items to be found in issue number 189.
Item 53 presents an interesting collection of documents from the privateering vessel Fox after it sailed into Gloucester (Massachusetts) in 1814. This was during the War of 1812, and the U.S. had virtually no navy to combat British dominance of the seas. As a result, the U.S. turned to privateers, independent contractors so to speak, or pirates in the eyes of others, who in return for a portion of the spoils were licensed by the U.S. to attack British shipping. The Fox, under Samuel Handy, brought home a prize to Gloucester, the British ship Byker. Offered are four documents pertaining to the turning over of the Byker, including a landing permit, accounting of the ship's contents, and a report of the prisoners turned over to authorities. Priced at $1,500.
Item 14 is a look at the isolated island where many of the mutineers from the Bounty lived out the remainder of their lives: Pitcairn's Island, and Islanders in 1850, by Walter Brodie. The famed mutiny on the Bounty occurred in 1789, when a group of disgruntled seamen overpowered Captain William Bligh and his men. Bligh and most of those loyal to him were put on a small boat and cast out to sea. Miraculously, they traveled 3,500 miles to find rescue on a Dutch island, and then make it back to London to promote the court martial of the mutineers. Meanwhile, mutiny leader Fletcher Christian and his cohorts returned to Tahiti, where the Bounty had spent several months prior to the mutiny, and after gathering some women and men, set out to find an isolated island where the Royal Navy would not find them. They came upon Pitcairn, scuttled the Bounty, and stayed, undiscovered. The next time a vessel stopped at Pitcairn was 1808, and by then, all but one of the mutineers had died, Christian, reportedly, after a fight in 1793. Brodie's account, published in 1851 (this third edition was published in the same year as the first), tells of the descendants of mutineers and their Tahitian wives, who inhabited Pitcairn at that time, and still do today. It also provides shipping records of the limited number of vessels that had come calling to the island. $350.
Maritime Books from Ten Pound Island Book Company
Illustration of La Perouse's expedition at Easter Island.
Lord Horatio Nelson remains one of Britain's greatest naval officers, though he has been gone over two centuries. He led his country's naval forces against Napoleon, culminating in their massive victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Unfortunately, he was hit by enemy fire during the battle and died a short time later. Item 54 is a letter Nelson wrote Viscount Melville, First Lord of the Admiralty, on behalf of Captain William Layman earlier that year. Layman had served with Nelson, and the latter had been his sponsor. Layman's ship had been driven ashore and captured by the Spanish. Layman had told Nelson this had happened as a result of neglect by the officer on watch, but Nelson encouraged Layman to keep his silence on this as it would result in the death penalty for the officer. As a result, Layman was court martialed and censored, serious damage to his career. Nelson herein pleads for Layman's career, noting that taking risks is necessary to performing the task, writing, "If I had been censured every time I have run my ship, or fleets under my command, into great danger, I should long ago have been out of the Service..." Included with this is a second letter, from Layman himself to Melville, written after Nelson's death. The letters were to no avail. Perhaps having a powerful ally such as Nelson would have changed the result had he lived, but with Nelson gone a few months later, the censure was not overturned, and Layman never was granted command of a ship again. He became an adviser to the Admiralty and wrote books, and in 1826, he committed suicide. $17,500.
Item 44 is the first English language edition of the account of the expedition of the great French explorer Jean-Francois de La Perouse: A Voyage Round the World, in the Years 1785...1788. This edition was published in London in 1799. His was an extensive voyage, bringing him to South and North America, as far north as Alaska, Hawaii and numerous other Pacific islands, Russia, Japan, China and Australia. However, after he left Australia, his ships disappeared, and the wreckage that revealed his fate was not discovered until 40 years later. Fortunately, La Perouse had sent copies of his notes home with others from the various stops he made along the way, thereby saving his account of the voyage. $4,000.
Ten Pound Island Book Company may be reached at 978-283-5299 or email@example.com. Their website is www.tenpound.com.
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