AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2008 Issue

Antiquarian Books from Samuel Gedge Rare Books

Cumby

Hero-to-be William Cumby is appointed Lieutenant.


Item 73 is a remarkable document: the appointment of a British naval hero to the post where his reputation was made. This document, dated November 3, 1804, officially appointed William Pryce Cumby to the position of Lieutenant of HMS Bellerophon (commonly called "Billy Ruffian"). This appointment would prove to be very wise when, during the Battle of Trafalgar, almost a year later, the Bellerophon would find itself trapped between enemy ships, one French, one Spanish. The French ship L'Aigle was pouring it on its British counterpart when the Bellerophon's Captain was struck and killed. In the midst of this terrible battle, full command fell to Cumby. He responded with an unlikely success, first training their full force on French sailors attempting to board his ship, successfully repelling them, and eventually managing to capture the L'Aigle. The surprising turnabout in a battle that eventually went overwhelmingly to the British made Cumby an overnight hero. He was quickly promoted and went on to have a distinguished career in the Royal Navy. £1,600 (US $3,161).

Item 23 is a broadside prospectus, or Sketch of a plan for effecting a voyage round the globe, by the route of India, China, Japan, and the Pacific Isles, for the purposes of discovery, - civilization, - and commerce, - combined. The prospectus was issued in 1830 by James Silk Buckingham, a world traveler who had spent several years publishing a newspaper in India. Buckingham noted this was a propitious time for such a voyage as the area between Asia and the Americas was the least well known to the British. It remained so for a while longer, as this voyage never took place. However, two years later, Buckingham was elected to Parliament, where he served for five years, promoting social reform. £750 (US $1,482).

Now we go to a voyage which did take place. Item 96 is a broadside advertisement For New York, Direct. To Sail Immediately. The Splendid First Class American Ship Foveran. "Splendid" would have been a relative term, because it is unlikely this ship, carrying mainly Irish and European immigrants to America in 1831, would be a vessel most of us would enjoy taking for a 35-day cruise. However, the notice promises that "accommodation for 2nd cabin and steerage passengers are very superior." £400 (US $790).

Samuel Gedge Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0)1263 722 555 or rarebooks@samuelgedge.com. Their website is www.samuelgedge.com.

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