In ancient Athens, the birthplace of democracy, only men were permitted to vote. Such a narrow privilege reserved only for male citizens, rightfully prompted women to fight for the existence of women’s suffrage, or the right of women to vote and to stand for electoral office. However, the global change that the suffrage movement brought about was gradual and unpromising. Various countries, colonies and states, such as New Zealand, South Australia, and Finland only granted restricted women’s suffrage in the latter half of the 19th, into the 20th century. American women won the vote on August 26, 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. As a result, three important cook books that actively cultivated the pursuit of the right for women to vote are now considered rare commodities.

First in 1886, Bostonian Mrs. Hattie A. Burr printed her The Woman Suffrage Cook Book, Containing Thoroughly Tested and Reliable Recipes for Cooking, Directions for the Care of the Sick, and Practical Suggestions. Contributed Especially for this Work. It was meant to accompany the Festival and Bazaar in 1886. The list of contributors includes many prominent American suffragettes, such as Mary A. Livermore, Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, Alice Stone Blackwell, Abbey Kelly Forster, Mrs. Oliver Ames, Portland Oregon resident Abigail Scott Duniway who was considered the mother of the suffrage movement in the Pacific Northwest, Rev. Annie H. Shaw, Francis Willard and many others. In addition to the recipes and household advice, it includes comments on women’s suffrage from Lincoln, Longfellow, Whittier, Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Lydia Maria Child, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Clara Burton, James A, Garfield, and others.

Washington_Womens_Cookbook_Seattle_1908By the end of the 19th century, the suffrage movement was composed of a significant pool of college-educated women and women’s organizations, which made the movement a lot more respectable. In late 1908 the Washington Equal Suffrage Association published the Washington Women’s Cook Book in Seattle. The cookbook’s title page printed the legend: “Give us the vote and we will cook.  The better for a wide outlook,” and the dedication: “To the first woman who realized that half of the human race were not getting a square deal, and who had the courage to voice a protest.”  Linda Deziah Jennings of LaConner edited the volume, with assistance from Washington Equal Suffrage Association president Emma Smith Devoe.

By the 1910’s in America, women’s suffrage had become a mass movement. A parallel and much more radical movement was being carried out in Britain, where suffragettes were arrested for public disorder and given prison sentences of anywhere from 3 days to several months. In 1915, the Equal Franchise Federation of Western Pennsylvania published The Suffrage Cook Book. The book was dedicated to Fanny Garrison Villard, widow of Henry Villard and a longtime suffragist. Recipe contributions for the cook book came from Anna Howard Shaw, Laura Kleber, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Harriet Taylor Upton.

These three cook books spanning over 30 years of suffragists activities, cultivated the basic idea that women should have the right to vote and it should not be viewed as a distraction to domestic duties; an important milestone of social history. Moreover, the suffragist movement cookbooks can be likened to a Trojan horse in the form of a book filled with sweet offerings to the taste buds with a message to bring about social change.

Suffrage_Cookbook_Western_Pennsylvania_1915For the rare book collector of social history the lesson learned is priceless – a good opportunity comes with every social political movement of significant importance. Whether being the labor movement and socialist movement of the late 19th century, a civil rights movement, or even the women’s rights and the more recent gay rights movement, one thing for sure, is that some of the books associated with such movements will be the scarce pulse of the time. These three books are all extremely rare with mostly non first editions available for sale. When a first edition trades hands, it proves to be quite an expensive cook book selling for more than a few thousand dollars- a small price to pay for an artifact that laid groundwork for future women to live a life of independence and public activity.


Mutiny on the Bounty

Having identified the Prime Meridian, where longitude is defined as 0°, as being Greenwich, we have also acknowledged the starting point of exploration. An imaginary great circle on the earth’s surface passing through the North and South geographic poles places tremendous appreciation to the explorers who first sailed ship from that point going into strange lands. Such an important marker cannot be overlooked by the serious and assiduous collectors of rare books of exploration who place the exploits of British explorers at the core of their collection.

It was an appreciation for such works and the requirement to be in mint condition that drove Franklin Brooke-Hitching into a 46 year long journey of his own to acquire volumes chronicling the exploits of British explorers. From 16th-century explorations of the Northwest Passage to 20th-century pioneering attempts on Mount Everest, the target included books that are not merely traveling books, but are full of adventure and exotic flavor. The collection of 1,400 volumes charting the voyages of adventurers such as William Bligh, Edward Christian, James Cook, Charles Darwin, Francis Drake and David Livingstone was considered as complete as it will ever be. It includes the first book to be printed in the Antarctic; the first map of Australia, commissioned by the botanist Sir Joseph Banks in 1772; the first printed map of Cook’s discoveries from his first voyage, as well as the complete set of his journals; a signed copy of Ernest Shackleton’s The Heart of the Antarctic and much more.

Now 72 years old, Brooke-Hitching, who believes he owns a copy of almost every book on British exploration, has decided to offer his collection to be auctioned by Sotheby’s in three separate events. The initial segment consisting of 345 volumes from authors A-C took place at the end of last month, and managed to reach the high end of its ambitious estimate quite handsomely. The highlight of this first segment was in the offering of the collection of Captain James Cook books, which included the first printed map selling for £134,000, a narrative of his death from 1786 going for £104,500, and the much publicized catalog of the 39 pieces of cloth specimens collected in his three voyages selling for £182,000 (prices include buyer premiums).

Auction bidders pushed prices at twice the high estimates for books covering the controversial transaction that is known as the mutiny on board of the British Royal Navy ship HMS, The Bounty. The “Mutiny on the Bounty,” as it became known, took place on the 28th of April 1789, an attack against the ship’s captain, Lieutenant William Bligh by the mutineers led by Fletcher Christian, who, according to accounts, were attracted to the “idyllic” life and sexual opportunities afforded on the Pacific island of Tahiti. A first edition by Captain William Bligh, Stephen Barney and Edward Christian of the minutes of the court-martial at Portsmouth who charged the men with mutiny on board the ship, sold for £40,000. Another first edition in the series concerning the trial proceedings, A short Reply to Capt. William Blight’s Answer London: J. Deighton 1795, sold for £80,500.

Any first appearance of Blight’s account of the expedition that attracted the public notice is also very popular with collectors of rare exploration. However, these books do not include any drawings or maps or even descriptions of notable coastal discoveries, as the object of the voyage was namely to obtain plants of the bread-fruit, with a view to its acclimatization in the British West India islands.  Instead, these are accounts and proceedings of the trial of the crew members of the Bounty, some of which provide the evidence for the prosecution, and others with a full account of the causes and circumstances of the transaction that were written by Edward Christian, the brother of the mutineer Fletcher Christian. These documents were not intended for publication and have been withheld from the public.

Segments 2 and 3 of this fascinating auction are planned for September 2014 and spring 2015.



Rare Book Sale Monitor update – 1st Quarter 2014 – Factor of Provenance

April 4, 2014
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The study of the circumstances in which individual copies of books have changed ownership throughout their lifetime, also referred to as provenance, is quite important to the workings of the Rare Book Sale Monitor (RBSM). Since any tool used in measuring a commodity’s price changes over periods of time is quite vulnerable to sampling errors, […]

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Happy 450th Birthday to William Shakespeare

March 28, 2014
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The most valuable collection of Shakespeare’s works was accumulated by Henry Clay Folger, a millionaire Standard Oil executive, who died two weeks after he laid the cornerstone to the Folger Shakespeare Library in 1930. He appointed the Trustees of Amherst College to administer the library located in Washington, DC and the collection that includes 79 […]

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The Lombard Gradual

March 21, 2014
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Rare Books Digest is pleased to host Laurent Ferri, Curator of Pre-1800 Collections at Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, presenting the Lombard Gradual. Graduals are large books from which choirs of monks, friars, or nuns chanted prayers and portions of the mass during medieval times. This Latin manuscript on vellum originated […]

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March 14, 2014

Books of inventions are a little-known category of Renaissance books: an excellent example is the 1578 the Théâtre des Instruments Mathématiques et Mécaniques de Jacques Besson, Dauphinois, Docte Mathématicien, published for the first time in 1571 or 1572 (Cornell University, Kroch Library, Division of Rare Books and Manuscripts, History of Science TJ144 B55 1578++). Born […]

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Livre d’artiste

March 7, 2014
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The art and craft of the book is as broad in content as the human mind over the course of centuries itself. Throughout history, the production of the book has spanned from manuscripts to avant-garde, from traditional forms of design, art techniques and hand-manufacture to the latest technologies, imaging sciences, and automated printing machines. Whether […]

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Elementa Geometriae – the oldest mathematical textbook

February 28, 2014
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The field of mathematics has a long and fascinating origin. Its foundation is based in logic, which has greatly enhanced its significant development.  This invaluable foundation in logic is seen in a work that took place in ancient Greece in the centuries preceding Euclid. I am currently reading a very interesting commentary on the history […]

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The 1501 Aldine Edition of Petrarch (vellum) or The Rhetorical Delivery of a New Practice: Printing Modern Poetry

February 21, 2014
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It is never easy to deliver a new idea, a new invention, or a new product. In his famed article, “Is Google Making us Stupid?”[1] Nicholas Carr notes that Guttenberg’s invention was met with anxiety by many, who worried that “cheaply printed books would undermine religious authority, demean the work of scholars and scribes, and spread […]

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Love is a Pink Cake

February 10, 2014
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Almost all Christian wedding ceremonies include the favorite Bible verse which includes the phrase “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4–8a), to convey the essence of love.  During the month of February, many of us try to find the perfect opportunity to rekindle a romance or strengthen a bond amid the commercialized chocolate […]

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