AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2010 Issue

Rare and Important Books from the Antiquariaat Forum and Asher Rare Books

Forum7-10

250 rare books and manuscripts.


By Michael Stillman

The Antiquariaat Forum and Asher Rare Books have combined to publish a Catalogue of 250 Rare and Important Printed Books and Manuscripts. There is certainly a European flavor to the rare books offered by the Dutch booksellers, and a great many of these books are very old - 16th and 17th centuries. They cover just about any subject, from natural to human history, science, medicine, religion, travel, and more. Many are noted more for their illustrations than their text, with several exquisitely illustrated color plate books offered. This is an exceptional catalogue, offering 250 exceptional items.

Item 74 is a contemporary account of a battle of long, long ago. Actually, it was a siege more than a battle. The Knights Hospitallers had operated a hospital in Jerusalem while it was under Christian control, but were forced from the mainland by the Turks in 1291. Orders such as these knights were more than a religious or charitable organization, but a military force as well. The Knights backtracked but later settled on the island of Rhodes, just off the Turkish coast. For the next two centuries, they used their stronghold to harass shipping between the Islamic lands of the eastern Mediterranean. In 1480, the Turks launched an attack on Rhodes, hoping to remove this thorn from their side, but to no avail. The Knights built enormous fortifications to withstand all attacks. Finally, the Turks attacked again in 1522, this time with enormously superior forces, and began a siege that finally wore down the Knights. They reached a settlement with the Turks that allowed them to safely evacuate. The Knights moved to Malta, and the Turks controlled the sea. Offered is a copy of the account of the siege by Jacobus Fontanus published in 1524, De bello Rhodio libri tres Clementi VII Pont. Max. dedicati. Priced at €5,500 (euros, or approximately US $6,787.

Pierre Marie Francois de Pages may not be known as one of the great voyagers as he did not lead any missions. Nevertheless, he conducted one of the most extensive of 18th century travels, and he tells all about them in Voyages autour du monde et vers les deux Poles...(1767-76), published in two volumes in 1782. Pages was a young French naval officer in 1767 when he obtained a leave to do some traveling. He went to Louisiana, traveled up the Mississippi, and then over through Texas and Mexico. He would then travel across the Pacific to the Far East and Near East before making his way back to France. Later on, he would participate in journeys that headed toward both the North and South Poles. He would next serve with the French Navy during the American Revolution and finally, his health weakened by all of his travels, retired to a plantation in Haiti. He was killed there in 1793 during a slave revolt. Item 164. €2,500 (US $3,082).

Item 4 is a complete set of a massive, early natural history. It is the Opera, or works of Ulisse Adrovandi of Bologna. Androvandi may not be a household name today, but he was very important to the advancement of science in the 16th century. In his younger days, Aldrovandi studied philosophy and medicine, and spent some time under sort of a house arrest for heresy. Fortunately, he was of good bloodlines, and was allowed to become a professor at the University of Bologna. It was at this time that his focus shifted to natural history. He was particularly interested in botany, establishing the first botanical gardens in Bologna, though his interests spread far beyond plants, to birds, animals, geology, and even creatures that bordered on the mythical, such as dragons and monsters. In those days, the line between scientific knowledge and myth was not so clearly understood. His works did not begin to be published until late in his life, the first being printed in 1599. Only 4 of 13 were released during his lifetime, which concluded in 1605, the rest being from his notes, the last not coming out until 1667. €75,000 (US $92,500).

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