Two weeks ago, I went on a ten-day vacation. I returned from the Canadian wilds last Wednesday, August 2, but instead of getting back to work, or at least cleaning up the ten days’ worth of confusion that had accumulated in my absence, I said to myself, “I think I’ll extend my vacation one more day.”
That was five days ago.
All too soon it’s Monday morning again, and here I come, back to the office, kicking and screaming. And what do I find awaiting me? A box of books from the binder. Christmas in August!
Having little with which to amuse you this week, I’ll amuse myself with the contents of that box:
Clark, Joseph G. Lights and Shadows of Sailor Life… Including the More Thrilling Events of the U.S. Exploring Expedition. Boston: Benjamin B. Mussey, 1848. 19.5 cm. 324 pp. b/w plates. Clark, a seaman in the Wilkes Expedition, was nearly murdered in the Fijis. Bibliographers Rosove, Forbes and Hill regard this book as a rich source of inside information about the Expedition… Rosove ANTARCTICA 72: “[H]is Antarctic account is found in chapters VII-VIII (pp. 99-119).” Forbes HAWAII 1631: “The Hawaii portion of the text is on pages 178-209. Clark gives an interesting description of Hilo and the preparations made for the expedition to Mauna Loa via Kilauea… He continues with a description of the trip and some of the scientific experiments attempted. He writes of a visit by the king to the ship at Lahaina… A transcription of the death sentence of Kamanawa and Lonopuakau is on pages 179-180…” HILL COLLECTION OF PACIFIC VOYAGES p. 53: “Clark was a seaman on the United States Exploring Expedition, commanded by Captain Charles Wilkes. During a stop in the Fiji Islands, Clark was nearly murdered by the islanders; two men of the expedition lost their lives in the attack. Clark gives descriptions of the Columbia River valley and of San Francisco and the surrounding areas; he praises the abundance and fertility of California’s natural resources. Hawaii was visited twice. A report on the wreck of the Peacock is given.” — Hill 299. Judd p. 54. Haskell 113. Howes C-442. Second edition, and superior to the first in that it has a frontispiece and three plates. Upper corner torn off title page with no loss of text. Plates are evenly tanned. Bound in publisher’s cloth with gold cover and backstrip decorations intact. $250
Rattenbury, John. Memoirs of a Smuggler. Sidmouth (England) : J. Harvey, 1837. 19 cm. iv, 108 pp. b/w frontispiece. “C]ompiled from his Diary and Journal: containing the principal events if the life of John Rattenbury, of Beer, Devonshire; commonly called ‘The Rob Roy of the West.’” His smuggling took place in seaports along the Devon coast, so he’s definitely a maritime smuggler. He closes with this interesting note: “The Smuggler gratefully acknowledges the kindness of the Right Hon. LORD ROLLE, who now allows him one shilling per week for life.” The explanation for this largesse is probably buried somewhere in his narrative. The map, absent in most copies is lacking in this one, too. Otherwise a very good, untrimmed copy in original blind stamped brown cloth with gold cover lettering. Paper labels chipped from backstrip. $150
Anon. The Criminal Recorder, or, An Awful Beacon To the Rising Generation of Both Sexes, Erected by the Arm of Justice to Persuade them from the Dreadful Miseries of Guilt. Philadelphia: Robert Desilver, 1824. 18 cm. vi, 280 pp. Six b/w engraved plates. Pirates John Gow, Baker Brous and Peterson, and Edward Jordan and wife Margaret are featured here, along with 25 other highwaymen, pickpockets, sharpers, and murderers, assembled for us by an anonymous “Friend of Man.” Scarce enough, with only 8 libraries in America holding copies. Bound in full tree calf. Rebacked to match, with original spine label. $250
Hutchinson, William. A Treatise on Practical Seamanship… (Liverpool): for the Author, 1777. 26 cm. xiv, 213 pp. 10 b/w engraved plates, folding chart of Liverpool Harbor. Rare first edition of an important and influential book on seamanship. According to the DNB Hutchinson was a life-long seaman, having first-hand experience in most branches of the maritime trades. He was on an East Indiaman in 1738, in command of a privateer in 1747 and in the West Indies in 1750. In 1760 he was he was appointed a dock-master at Liverpool. This work, his first, is concerned with all aspects of rigging, loading, steering and sailing a ship, as well as more general aspects of nautical science. Adams & Waters 2179. Scott 445 (citing only the 4th edition). This copy comes with a signed sales receipt from noted New York bookseller John Fleming. On the verso is a note from the librarian who ultimately owned the book, stating that, since he was “persona non grata” with Fleming, he obtained this copy by straw purchase. The note also outlines the librarian’s prosecution of two “priests” who stole rare books from his library and were sent to jail. Text evenly tanned; old water stains on the edges of the Liverpool chart. Bound in full contemporary calf, rebacked, with gilt decoration and original label laid down. $1250
Pownall, T[homas]. A Memorial Addressed to the Sovereigns of America. London: J. Debrett, 1783. 20 cm. iv, (1) 6-139, (5 adverts) pp. “[B]y T. Pownall, late governor, captain-general, vice-admiral, &c. of the provinces, now states, Massachusetts-Bay and South-Carolina ; and lieutenant-governor of New-Jersey.” Pownall was sympathetic to the American cause, and was a friend of Benjamin Franklin’s. First published anonymously in 1780, this pamphlet acknowledged the United States as a force to be reckoned with in the future, and urged European powers to re-examine their ideas of world trade. “They will become a Nation to whom all nations will come; a Power whom all the Powers of Europe will court to Civil and Commercial alliances; a people to whom all the Remnants of all ruined People will fly, whom all the oppressed and injured of every nation will seek for refuge.” – p. 138. Sabin 64824. Backstrip laid down, else a very good copy, with half title. Rebound in half morocco over boards by Lloyd of London. $500