Nov 7, 2023 10:00 EST

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

 
Lot 182
 

182

Important David Livingstone four-page letter signed describing his last expedition

Estate / Collection: The Esmond Bradley Martin Collection

LIVINGSTONE, DAVID

Four-Page Autograph Letter Signed. To Dr. Edwin Seward, dated February 1, 1867, Bemba, concerning his last expedition. A single sheet of blue paper watermarked with the figure of Brittania folded as 4 pp.; in an envelope, possibly original, marked in a later hand. 12 3/8 x 7 7/8 inches (31.5 x 20 cm), with Livingstone's generally legible handwriting. Usual folds, some minor separations, white flecking to the blue paper, possibly as a result of the damp mentioned in the letter. With a detailed transcription.

A major autograph letter signed by Livingstone, written from the African interior during his final expedition, 1866-1871, which terminated in his death. Headed "Private," it is addressed to his friend Dr. Edwin Seward, apparently then at Zanzibar. With this letter, Livingstone sent his despatches to the Foreign Secretary Lord Clarendon. He also asks Seward to make a copy for Sir Bartle Frere's private information. Livingstone was drenched daily during the rainy season, a notoriously unhealthy time of year, so the loss of his medicines recounted here was a major setback, and doubtless contributed to his death in 1871.

"We found a party of Bagamoio slavers here all ready to start & hungry so could not expect them to wait longer than a day -- one of them was with Speke so understands the nature of Despatches & I think they will be delivered..." He fears that a previous letter may have been destroyed by the sepoys, under the Arab slaver Suleiman, to whose care it had been entrusted. Because of this possibility Livingstone recites "from memory the heads of the indictment" against his followers: "The Sepoys seemed to have planned my compulsory return as soon as they had killed all the beasts of burden one camel they beat with the buts of their guns till he expired on the spot-& a mule was killed--certain sores were cruelly probed & lacerated when I was not in sight & I came upon them one day when one was mauling a poor camel with a stick thicker than his arm..."

He supplies a lengthy indictment of the crimes of the Hamldar of Sepoys ("...When he talked of going to die with me I said nothing He soon got sulky -- was a useless drag...") and catalogs the sufferings he and his party have endured: "We have lately had a great deal of hunger not want of fine dishes but want of all dishes except Mushrooms --t he rains are very heavy & for six weeks we have had hard lives -- The Balusa country is depopulated by their own slaving -- We are going to rest here a little and may be at Tanganyika by May but we travel slowly -- I have had no information whatever from the coast -- If you can send anything more to Ujiji at Tanganyika -- 50 lbs of sugar -- 50 lbs of coffee -- a small box of candles [--] a stick of sealing wax -- a cheese in tin, a small box of soap -- some French preserved meats -- half a dozen bottles of port wine well packed & some quinine & calomel & resin of jalap & please pay them with what you have on hand -- Dont exceed these quantities please for heavy things we cant carry -- the sorest loss I ever sustained was that of my medicines -- every gram of them... We had plenty of provisions after we left Lake Nyassa but latterly got into sore hunger -- Dont think please that I make a moan over nothing -- but a little sharpness of appetite. I am a mere ruckle of bones..."

In the postscript he adds: "The head man of the slavery party is named Magaru Mazupi Hadim Sirkar a lamji I told him to take the packet to the Sultan as a letter for his Highness is on the outside and you would pay whatever was right for the service on my account. Despatches all open but they may adhere from damp on the way ... Please gum the despatches when you send them on. I send 12 letters ... and if I can two notes..."

Provenance:

Sotheby's 6th July, 1977, lot 238, to Maggs.

Sold for $3,465
Estimated at $3,000 - $4,000

Includes Buyer's Premium


 

Estate / Collection: The Esmond Bradley Martin Collection

LIVINGSTONE, DAVID

Four-Page Autograph Letter Signed. To Dr. Edwin Seward, dated February 1, 1867, Bemba, concerning his last expedition. A single sheet of blue paper watermarked with the figure of Brittania folded as 4 pp.; in an envelope, possibly original, marked in a later hand. 12 3/8 x 7 7/8 inches (31.5 x 20 cm), with Livingstone's generally legible handwriting. Usual folds, some minor separations, white flecking to the blue paper, possibly as a result of the damp mentioned in the letter. With a detailed transcription.

A major autograph letter signed by Livingstone, written from the African interior during his final expedition, 1866-1871, which terminated in his death. Headed "Private," it is addressed to his friend Dr. Edwin Seward, apparently then at Zanzibar. With this letter, Livingstone sent his despatches to the Foreign Secretary Lord Clarendon. He also asks Seward to make a copy for Sir Bartle Frere's private information. Livingstone was drenched daily during the rainy season, a notoriously unhealthy time of year, so the loss of his medicines recounted here was a major setback, and doubtless contributed to his death in 1871.

"We found a party of Bagamoio slavers here all ready to start & hungry so could not expect them to wait longer than a day -- one of them was with Speke so understands the nature of Despatches & I think they will be delivered..." He fears that a previous letter may have been destroyed by the sepoys, under the Arab slaver Suleiman, to whose care it had been entrusted. Because of this possibility Livingstone recites "from memory the heads of the indictment" against his followers: "The Sepoys seemed to have planned my compulsory return as soon as they had killed all the beasts of burden one camel they beat with the buts of their guns till he expired on the spot-& a mule was killed--certain sores were cruelly probed & lacerated when I was not in sight & I came upon them one day when one was mauling a poor camel with a stick thicker than his arm..."

He supplies a lengthy indictment of the crimes of the Hamldar of Sepoys ("...When he talked of going to die with me I said nothing He soon got sulky -- was a useless drag...") and catalogs the sufferings he and his party have endured: "We have lately had a great deal of hunger not want of fine dishes but want of all dishes except Mushrooms --t he rains are very heavy & for six weeks we have had hard lives -- The Balusa country is depopulated by their own slaving -- We are going to rest here a little and may be at Tanganyika by May but we travel slowly -- I have had no information whatever from the coast -- If you can send anything more to Ujiji at Tanganyika -- 50 lbs of sugar -- 50 lbs of coffee -- a small box of candles [--] a stick of sealing wax -- a cheese in tin, a small box of soap -- some French preserved meats -- half a dozen bottles of port wine well packed & some quinine & calomel & resin of jalap & please pay them with what you have on hand -- Dont exceed these quantities please for heavy things we cant carry -- the sorest loss I ever sustained was that of my medicines -- every gram of them... We had plenty of provisions after we left Lake Nyassa but latterly got into sore hunger -- Dont think please that I make a moan over nothing -- but a little sharpness of appetite. I am a mere ruckle of bones..."

In the postscript he adds: "The head man of the slavery party is named Magaru Mazupi Hadim Sirkar a lamji I told him to take the packet to the Sultan as a letter for his Highness is on the outside and you would pay whatever was right for the service on my account. Despatches all open but they may adhere from damp on the way ... Please gum the despatches when you send them on. I send 12 letters ... and if I can two notes..."

Provenance:

Sotheby's 6th July, 1977, lot 238, 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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