Nov 7, 2023 10:00 EST

Rare Books, Autographs & Maps including the Esmond Bradley Martin Collection

 
Lot 190
 

190

Robert Henry Nelson's autograph diary written daily during Stanley's Emin Pasha Relief Expedition

Estate / Collection: The Esmond Bradley Martin Collection

NELSON, ROBERT HENRY, Captain

Autograph Diary written daily during Stanley's Emin Pasha Relief Expedition, covering the period 18 March 1887-22 August 1889. Two volumes, brown suede diaries. 7 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches (19 x 12 cm); approximately 340 pp, written in pencil, in Lett's Perpetual Diaries, recording the Expedition's activities, especially his own as commander of No. 3 Company (Zanzibaris), describing many incidents, especially his ordeal when separated from the main party in consequence of Stanley's decisions. One volume loose in binding, a long list of personnel loosely inserted.

An extraordinary and primary document in the area of African explanation, written in the field. Despite the fact that Stanley paid tribute to Nelson's courage and conduct—in his In Darkest Africa he speaks of "the priceless services" and "the brave soldierly qualities of Nelson" (Vol. I, 1890, p. 5)—not all was well between the two. Nelson confided to his diaries on 31 December 1887 that "...Stanley is the last man who ought to have been chosen for the O.C. of the expedition. He is an utter brute & cad."

Other remarks are also fiercely critical. On 13 July 1887 he writes "left camp 6.30. Had a devil of a day—men marched slowly on bad road, got benighted, Stanley going too far for the men... 29 September 1887 ".... Stanley ... with boats & other canoes had also got bushed & only got to camp about 2 hours before me, the truth is, the crew of my canoe ... are a lot of infernal duffers & are no real good, besides being at present in a half starved condition..." 6 October 1887: "I went to Stanley this morning & told him that I had only 41 men able to carry loads, out of 65, the rest were too sick. He looked down on the ground & said, "Well Nelson, I am afraid there is nothing for it, but you must stay here with the sick men & loads. I was thunderstruck, as there is no food at all here and I have only tea & coffee & a very little sago, about enough for one meal. I however said 'All right. Sir.'" 31 July 1888: "Went out Ruggi Ruggi with 7 men by Avenue Nyanza round plantations. saw nothing of Wackenzies. Returned to Fort about 1 p.m. In afternoon Stairs went for Shabani for insolence . . . unless Jephson comes soon we shall have a mutiny." Given that two thirds of the expedition died, these expostulations are telling, to say the least.

Nelson, of Leeds in Yorkshire, joined the Expedition in London in January 1887, when he was in his late twenties, and served with it throughout, until its conclusion in December 1889. He had previously been a lieutenant in Baker's Horse, March-September 1879, during the Zulu War, with Wood's Flying Column; and he was captain and adjutant of a Mounted Native Corps during the Basuto Rebellion of 1880-1. He was therefore an experienced officer, although new to African exploration. In the first of the two volumes of this Diary, the brief notes in ink refer to Nelson's journey from England to Zanzibar and from there to the mouth of the Congo (20 January-17 March 1887). The volume then continues in pencil from 18 March to 31 December 1887. The same volume was used again by Nelson for the year 1889 (from 1 January). All the entries for 1889 are so marked by him, as explained by him in a note. Thus all passages in this volume that are not marked "89" relate to 1887.

Provenance:

Sotheby's 12th June, 1973, lot 588; to Maggs

Sold for $5,355
Estimated at $1,500 - $2,500

Includes Buyer's Premium


 

Estate / Collection: The Esmond Bradley Martin Collection

NELSON, ROBERT HENRY, Captain

Autograph Diary written daily during Stanley's Emin Pasha Relief Expedition, covering the period 18 March 1887-22 August 1889. Two volumes, brown suede diaries. 7 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches (19 x 12 cm); approximately 340 pp, written in pencil, in Lett's Perpetual Diaries, recording the Expedition's activities, especially his own as commander of No. 3 Company (Zanzibaris), describing many incidents, especially his ordeal when separated from the main party in consequence of Stanley's decisions. One volume loose in binding, a long list of personnel loosely inserted.

An extraordinary and primary document in the area of African explanation, written in the field. Despite the fact that Stanley paid tribute to Nelson's courage and conduct—in his In Darkest Africa he speaks of "the priceless services" and "the brave soldierly qualities of Nelson" (Vol. I, 1890, p. 5)—not all was well between the two. Nelson confided to his diaries on 31 December 1887 that "...Stanley is the last man who ought to have been chosen for the O.C. of the expedition. He is an utter brute & cad."

Other remarks are also fiercely critical. On 13 July 1887 he writes "left camp 6.30. Had a devil of a day—men marched slowly on bad road, got benighted, Stanley going too far for the men... 29 September 1887 ".... Stanley ... with boats & other canoes had also got bushed & only got to camp about 2 hours before me, the truth is, the crew of my canoe ... are a lot of infernal duffers & are no real good, besides being at present in a half starved condition..." 6 October 1887: "I went to Stanley this morning & told him that I had only 41 men able to carry loads, out of 65, the rest were too sick. He looked down on the ground & said, "Well Nelson, I am afraid there is nothing for it, but you must stay here with the sick men & loads. I was thunderstruck, as there is no food at all here and I have only tea & coffee & a very little sago, about enough for one meal. I however said 'All right. Sir.'" 31 July 1888: "Went out Ruggi Ruggi with 7 men by Avenue Nyanza round plantations. saw nothing of Wackenzies. Returned to Fort about 1 p.m. In afternoon Stairs went for Shabani for insolence . . . unless Jephson comes soon we shall have a mutiny." Given that two thirds of the expedition died, these expostulations are telling, to say the least.

Nelson, of Leeds in Yorkshire, joined the Expedition in London in January 1887, when he was in his late twenties, and served with it throughout, until its conclusion in December 1889. He had previously been a lieutenant in Baker's Horse, March-September 1879, during the Zulu War, with Wood's Flying Column; and he was captain and adjutant of a Mounted Native Corps during the Basuto Rebellion of 1880-1. He was therefore an experienced officer, although new to African exploration. In the first of the two volumes of this Diary, the brief notes in ink refer to Nelson's journey from England to Zanzibar and from there to the mouth of the Congo (20 January-17 March 1887). The volume then continues in pencil from 18 March to 31 December 1887. The same volume was used again by Nelson for the year 1889 (from 1 January). All the entries for 1889 are so marked by him, as explained by him in a note. Thus all passages in this volume that are not marked "89" relate to 1887.

Provenance:

Sotheby's 12th June, 1973, lot 588; to Maggs

Auction: Rare Books, Autographs & Maps including the Esmond Bradley Martin Collection, Nov 7, 2023

  • Successful Auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps Tops $1 Million!
  • November 7, 2023 Sale Featured the Esmond Bradley Martin Collection of Africana & Travel
  • Consignments Are Currently Being Accepted for Future Auctions


NEW YORK, NY -- Doyle's successful auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps on November 7, 2023 topped $1 million amid competitive international bidding. Offerings in this popular sale spanned early illuminated manuscripts to modern literary first editions.

The Esmond Bradley Martin Collection of Africana and Travel comprised fascinating material that attracted bidders from around the world. Highlighting the collection was a copy of the first Latin edition of the earliest published collection of voyages, including those of Columbus and Vespucci: the 1508 Milan Fracanzo da Montalboddo, which achieved a strong $239,400. The collection also featured a rare uncut copy of Livio Sanuto's 1588 atlas of Africa that doubled its estimate at $25,200, as well as a group of 19th and early 20th century material relating to Zanzibar that attracted intense competition, sending the lots soaring over expectations. (Read more about Esmond Bradley Martin below.)

Property of other owners was highlighted by a first edition of Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking scientific work, On the Origin of Species, 1859, which realized $94,500. This copy bore provenance of Charles Darwin's great-grandson Quentin Keynes, to the naturalist Richard Bayard Dominick, thence by descent to the consignor.

Robert Browning's first edition copy of John Keats’ poem, Endymion, 1818, sold for $37,800, many times its $7,000-10,000 estimate. The poem begins with the well-known verse, "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever."

The selection of livres des artistes featured François-Louis Schmied's Daphne in a major Art Deco binding by Pierre Legrain, 1924, one of 140 copies. The book tripled its $8,000-12,000 estimate, selling for $32,760.

Manuscripts in the sale were highlighted by a medieval manuscript on paper, Calculus temporum Ecclesiasticus, which sailed past its estimate of $3,000-5,000 to achieve an exceptional $31,500. This fascinating calendrical manuscript in Latin, circa 1360, possibly English in origin, was once the property of antiquary and collector Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872).

100 years before the Revolution: from Plymouth Colony to the Salem Witch Trials - The Victor Gulotta Collection, offered a curated collection of 17th and 18th century manuscripts documenting life in colonial New England. Among the rarities were a 1691 document signed by two notorious Salem witch trials magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin that realized $5,670, a document from 1686/87 signed by Edmund Andros as Governor of the Dominion of New England that sold for $5,670, and a 1656 Boston court document relating to a divorce case that achieved $6,300, all three exceeding their estimates.

Esmond Bradley Martin

Esmond Bradley Martin (1941-2018) was educated as a geographer and philosopher. He and his wife Chryssee had an enduring fascination with Africa, and settled in Nairobi, Kenya, in the mid-1970s. He wrote extensively, oftentimes in conjunction with his wife, publishing works including Zanzibar. Tradition and Revolution, Hamish Hamilton, 1978; Cargoes of the east. The ports, trade, and culture of the Arabian Seas and western Indian Ocean, Elm Tree Press, 1978; and many other works on African history and conservation. In the late 1970s, he began extensive research into the illegal trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn, which included substantial stints incognito posing as a buyer of illicit wildlife products. For a while, he served as special envoy for rhino conservation for the United Nations. He continued this work until 2018 , when tragically he was stabbed to death in his Nairobi home

For about thirty years, beginning in the mid-1960s, Esmond Bradley Martin assiduously collected books and manuscripts on Africa and its history, acquiring a phenomenal collection of letters by many of the major English explorers of the nineteenth century, as well as numerous rarities from earlier centuries. He was buying at a time when troves of such material surfaced frequently at English auctions. Doyle was privileged to offer the first selection of his collection in the November 7 auction. A second and final portion will be offered early next year.


We Invite You to Auction!

Consignments are currently being accepted for future auctions. We invite you to contact us for a complimentary auction evaluation. Our Specialists are always available to discuss the sale of a single item or an entire collection.

For information, please contact Peter Costanzo at 212-427-4141, ext 248, or Edward Ripley-Duggan at ext. 234, or email Books@Doyle.com

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