Exploration and Discovery, 1576-1939: The Library of Franklin Brooke-Hitching at Sotheby’s

The Greatest Library of its Kind, this Exceptional Collection Includes: 

  • Original Cloth Samples Collected during Captain Cook’s Voyages to the Pacific 
  • The First Map to Show Captain Cook’s Discoveries in Australia and New Zealand 
  • The First Book Printed in Antarctica—Ernest Shackleton’s Aurora Australis (1908) 
  • First-Editions by Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, Captain Cook, Darwin, Scott and Shackleton 

FIRST AUCTION 27TH MARCH 2014 

Over a series of four auctions starting on 27th March 2014*, Sotheby’s will present the most magnificent collection of books charting the discovery of the world ever to emerge on the market. Recounting intrepid stories of Britain’s finest adventurers from the sixteenth century to the 1930s, the private library of some 1,500 rare and important books—all written in English—has been carefully assembled by collector Franklin Brooke-Hitching over four decades. Each and every book was handpicked for its exceptional condition.

Roger Griffiths, Sotheby’s Senior Director and Head of the Books and Manuscripts Department, said: ‘This sale represents an opportunity for collectors which may never be repeated. Over 40 years, Franklin Brooke-Hitching has assembled the finest private collection of books relating to exploration and discovery. Together they tell the story of mankind’s persistent quest—over half a millennium—to discover, explore and understand the world. Many of the books are unique or very rare presentation copies from the authors, or in fine bindings, and all are notable for being in the finest condition imaginable.’ 

Among the most exceptional books in the sale are Ernest Shackleton’s Aurora Australis (the first book printed in Antarctica ‘at the Sign of the Penguins’ in 1908), Joseph Banks' chart of The Great Pacific Ocean from (the first printed map to show Cook’s discoveries and to name New South Wales) and a volume of 56 original specimens of fabrics collected by Captain Cook in Tahiti, Hawaii, Jamaica and Tongatabu. Altogether, the collection is estimated to achieve in excess of £5 million. 

The dramatis personae represent a roll-call of the famous: Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, Captain Cook, Captain Bligh, George Vancouver, Charles Darwin, John Franklin, Richard Burton, David Livingstone, Captain Scott, Ernest Shackleton and many others. They explored all corners of the globe: the Arctic and Antarctic, Australia and the Pacific, the North-West Passage and the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The whole world is here. 

*The Library of Franklin Brooke-Hitching will be sold alphabetically by surname across four auctions held between 2014 and 2015. The first auction (of authors A-C) will take place on 27th March 2014. The next auction will follow on 30th September 2014, with two further sales scheduled for 2015. 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FIRST AUCTION 

27TH MARCH 2014 

THE EARLIEST PRINTED MAP OF AUSTRALIA 

Chart of The Great Pacific Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, Joseph Banks, 1772 (est. £80,000-120,000) 

This is the earliest printed map of Australia. Depicting New South Wales, Victoria, the east coast of Australia and New Zealand, it was commissioned by the botanist Sir Joseph Banks who had joined Cook on his first great voyage of discovery to the Pacific between 1768 and 1771. It was produced to celebrate the success of the first voyage, but also to promote Cook’s second Pacific expedition which Banks intended to join in 1772. 

Only three copies of the map are known to have survived. While one is kept in the British Library and another is held in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, the Brooke-Hitching copy is the only example left in private hands. Following a dispute with the Admiralty, Banks withdrew from Cook’s second voyage and discarded any uncirculated copies of the map. 

SPECIMENS OF CLOTH COLLECTED DURING CAPTAIN COOK’S VOYAGES TO THE PACIFIC 

A Catalogue of the Different Specimens of Cloth collected in The Three Voyages of Captain Cook to the Southern Hemisphere, Alexander Shaw, 1787 (est. £70,000-100,000) 

This remarkable book contains 56 original specimens of Tapa cloth collected during Cook’s three voyages to the Pacific and includes fabric from Tongatabu, Tahiti, the Hawaiian Islands and Jamaica. To date, only 63 copies of this work have been located and each one is a near unique assemblage. 

Captain James Cook, born the son of a farm labourer in Yorkshire in 1728, became one of the most celebrated British adventurers of the eighteenth century. He first entered the Royal Navy in 1755 after failing an apprenticeship to a grocer, and eventually undertook three expeditions to unchartered territories of the globe in the 1760s and 1770s - exploring and recording large swathes of the Pacific. He was the first European to make a recorded sighting of the South-east coast of Australia, and was one of the first Europeans to walk on Australian soil at Botany Bay and make contact with Aboriginal tribes. He died in Hawaii in 1779 during his third Pacific voyage following a dispute with the Hawaiians over a stolen boat. 

Altogether there are approximately 40 works relating to Captain Cook in the Brooke-Hitching library. 

THE FIRST BOOK PRINTED IN ALASKA 

Polar Almanac for the Year of our Lord 1854…Printed on board of Her Majesty’s Ship Enterprise in Camden Bay - Henry Hester [1853] 

(est. £10,000-15,000) 

This is the first book printed in Alaska. It was printed in 1854 on board the ship HMS Enterprise which had anchored in Camden Bay as it searched for Sir John Franklin and his crew who had disappeared in 1845 during a quest to find the North West passage. Only two copies of this book are known to have survived. 

This copy belonged to Henry Hester, the coxswain of HMS Enterprise, who counted it among his most treasured possessions. He had printed the book himself and it contains his own annotations alongside later additions added by Jane, Lad y Franklin (John Franklin’s wife) and Queen Emma of Hawaii. 

Franklin, the brother-in-law of Alfred Lord Tennyson, was eventually located in 1854 when the explorer Dr. John Rae discovered his remains whilst exploring the Boothia Peninsula. He had died along with all 129 members of his crew from a combination of scurvy, lead poisoning, hypothermia and starvation years before. His ship HMS Terror was in the possession of Inuits. 

Altogether there are about 20 books in the first part of the collection alone relating to John Franklin and the various searched for him which continued throughout much of the nineteenth century. 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FUTURE SALES 

Planned for September 2014, Spring 2015 and Autumn 2015 

THE FIRST BOOK PRINTED IN THE ANTARCTIC 

Ernest Shackleton, Aurora australis, “Printed at the sign of the Penguins”, winter quarters of the British Antarctic Expedition, Cape Royds, 1909 (est. £30,000-40,000) 

This is the first book printed in Antarctica and is considered the most desirable title in the Antarctic canon. Bound in wooden boards made from tea chests, it was printed in the winter quarters of the British Antarctic Expedition ‘at the sign of the penguins’ in 1909. It contains lithographs and etchings by George Marston, the official artist for the British Antarctic Expedition. 

A printing press had been brought over from England to ward off the boredom of overwintering in the perpetual dark. Each book was bound in the food provision crates. This example is a ‘tea’ copy - ‘marmalade’ and ‘butter’ copies are also known. Their spines were fashioned from leather horse harnesses. Altogether it is estimated that about 100 copies of this book were printed of which about 70 are accounted for today. 

AN ACCOUNT OF THE BRITISH ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION (1907-1909), SIGNED BY ERNEST SHACKLETON AND ALL OF THE SHORE PARTY 

Ernest Shackleton, The Heart of the Antarctic. London, 1909, a limited edition of 300 copies 

(est. £10,000-15,000) 

This account of Shackleton’s second expedition to the Antarctic in 1907 is signed by the sixteen men on the shore party who set up base at Cape Royds in February 1908. They returned back to Britain in 1909 as heroes, having managed to travel further south than man had ever gone before - to within 112 miles of the South Pole. This book is also illustrated with a drawing of Shackleton by George Marston, the official artist to the expedition. 

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