AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2006 Issue

A Short List From Antiquariaat Forum

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Alexandre Exquemelin shows up on the roster of the French raid on Carthegena as a surgeon, but he led an even more adventurous life before that date. Exquemelin had been sold into indentured servitude to a cruel master in the Caribbean for three years during his youth. Fortunately, his obligation was bought out midterm by a more generous master, a barber-surgeon, who taught Exquemelin his trade. Once free, but destitute, he determined to become a pirate. For five years he was, serving the infamous Henry Morgan much of the time, but then he decided to move on to more respectable pursuits. In 1678, he wrote one of the most notable accounts of the piracy profession at the time. Much of his book is based on the adventures of others, and much is probably fiction. In fact, depending on the edition, substantial parts were evidently the work of others. Depending on the audience (that is, the country in which published), editions seem designed to make the hometown people look good, and the foreigners evil. Still, the book gives a picture of an unsavory business in the late 17th century. Item 16 is a copy of the rare second French edition from 1688 of Histoire des avanturiers qui se sont signalez dans les Indies. What eventually became of Exquemelin is a mystery. After Carthegena, he was asked to work on a revised edition of his book, but refused, saying he had plans to go to America. Whatever finally became of him is unknown. $6,050.

The play Medea by Jan Six is not that well known, but its illustrator is. This 1679 edition contains an etching of the marriage of Jason and Creusa by another Dutchman, Rembrandt. Item 48. $60,500.

Here is a book you wouldn't expect to find in the Netherlands: The History of North Carolina, by Hugh Williamson. Actually, it is not quite as strange as it seems, as Williamson studied for a time in Holland and was an honorary member of the Holland Society of Sciences. He was also an American patriot and served as a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention. Though a native Pennsylvanian, he returned from Europe to settle in North Carolina during the Revolution. From there, he wrote a history of that state, although his two-volume book, published in 1812, covers only colonial times. Item 56. $1,210.

The Antiquariaat Forum may be found online at www.forumrarebooks.com, phone number +31 (0)30 6011955.

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