Events | October 17, 2016

Shapero Rare Books to Bring Rare 'Mutiny on the Bounty' Trial Documents to TEFAF NY

Shapero Rare Books is delighted to be participating in the inaugural edition of TEFAF New York, which will be held at the Armory on Park Avenue from October 22nd - 26th, 2016, and will bring items that focus on the Pacific and maritime discovery.

The centrepiece of Shapero’s stand is a series of very rare documents relating to the ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’, the infamous insurrection that led to Fletcher Christian, played memorably by Marlon Brando in the 1962 blockbuster of the same name, to set his commanding officer, Captain Bligh, adrift in a 23 foot open launch.

Shapero is selling a copy of the pamphlets documenting the court martial that took place when Christian was brought back for trial. Entitled The Minutes of ... the Court- Martial of 1794, it is a legendary rarity and one of “only a few copies ... printed for distribution among the interested parties and the ministers of state at that time”. Bligh had lost his ship, he was also compelled to undergo trial by court-martial just as the mutineers themselves were. This led to three pamphlets, which together give a unique insight into the trial of the members of the Bounty crew who were captured and repatriated, and Captain Bligh’s attempts to restore his reputation. Bligh’s response in the present set is also inscribed by the author.

Equally compelling are Captain Cook’s ‘Three Great Voyages’, which did more to clarify the geographical knowledge of the southern hemisphere than all his predecessors together had done. After calling at Tasmania and New Zealand, Cook sailed north, discovering Christmas Island and the Sandwich Islands, (later to be named the Hawai’ian Islands). Cook charted the American West coast from Northern California through the Bering Strait before being stopped by pack ice at latitude 70° 44???. It was in 1779, whilst wintering over at Hawai’i that he was killed in a fracas with natives over a boat. The present set is complete with the Death of Cook plate and Streight of Magellan chart.

Captain George Vancouver gained valuable experience on Cook's second and third voyages, then sailed the northwest coast of America. In three seasons' work Vancouver surveyed the coast of California, visited San Francisco and San Diego and other Spanish settlements in Alta California, investigated the Strait of Juan de Fuca, discovered the Strait of Georgia, circumnavigated Vancouver Island, and disproved the existence of any passage between the Pacific Ocean and Hudson Bay. Vancouver’s voyage ranks among the most important in exploration literature and Shapero offers now a first edition of one of the most difficult geographical surveys ever undertaken.

As the foremost dealer of Russian books in the west, Shapero is proud to offer an exceptional group of important atlases and accounts of Russian explorations of the Pacific And Alaska. These include a work by Yuriy Fedorovich (Urey) Lisianskiy, who, commanding the Neva, participated in the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe under the command of Kruzenshtern; Shapero is bringing a very rare signed atlas of Lisianskiy’s Voyage, which contains a map of Hawai’i showing the whole island group, along with the route of the ship.

Shapero Rare Books is also renowned for its natural history works, and will be bringing the earliest obtainable edition of Mark Catesby’s ground-breaking work The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, the first imporatn colour-plate book of American plants and animals. Not only is it a beautiful book to behold, with 220 large illustrations all coloured by hand, but also it is a work of major significance for the United States. It was the first work to depict the flora and fauna of the new world and Catesby was the first to use folio-sized coloured plates in natural history. Catesby is indeed now named 'the father of American ornithology'. This copy is in fine condition, and is also fresh to the market and with a great provenance: from the de Belder collection, one of the greatest collections of Natural History books, sold at auction in 1987 and since then kept in private hands.

In the early 1840s, at the same time as John James Audubon was producing the commercially successful octavo edition of his masterpiece, The Birds of America, he and his sons also began production of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, an elephant folio of 150 lithographs meant to match the lavishness of the Birds. Unlike the double-elephant folio Birds, The Quadrupeds was produced entirely in the United States. Assisted by his son John Wodehouse, Audubon included many frontier animals never before depicted and his landmark publication helped foster a public appreciation of American nature.

Jacques-Fabien Gautier d’Agoty’s three works represent a dramatic advance in anatomical illustration: they became the first life-sized anatomical illustrations in colour. Some of the plates are among the most elaborate produced by Gautier, especially notable for the intricate network of blood vessels which are meticulously indicated by direct colour printing. The Anatomie Générale includes several spectacular full-length plates, made from three plates which could be fitted together.

Literature is represented by a first edition of one of Jane Austen’s best loved works, Austen was not yet twenty when she drafted the novel, under the title First Impressions, between October 1796 and August 1797. The novel was declined by the publisher Cadell, and subsequently underwent major revisions and a change of title to Pride and Prejudice. Finally, the novel was published in early 1813, it sold well and was obviously much talked about, not least because of the unknown identity of the author. Anne Isabella Milbanke (the future Lady Byron) called it “a very superior work” and “the most probable fiction I have ever read.” Early nineteenth century binders often omitted the half titles and it is rare to find a set such as this one, a first edition, with all half titles present. The renowned Austen bibliographer, Geoffrey Keynes’s copy did not have half titles, nor do the Bodleian or Cambridge University library copies.