Detailed Studies

Marquesan artefacts, and the queen's tattooed hand

Marquesan artefacts, and the queen's tattooed hand

Charles Noury (1809-1869), a French naval officer born in Nantes, spent a number of years on service in the Pacific where he was entranced by the Marquesas islands. Years later, in his retirement, he studied and shared his collection of Pacific and especially Marquesan artefacts, and his Album Polynésien, an extremely rare and beautiful illustrated description of these and of observations that he made there, was published in Nantes in 1861. Among the wonderful depictions of artefacts the most beautiful of the images is that of the tattooed hand which, particularly graceful and beautiful, has spawned a small literature of its own since it depicts the famous tattoos of Queen Vaekehu (1823-1901). The tattoos were by different artists from the island of Ua Pou, home of the best tattooists in the archipelago, and they were done so well and so similarly that they appeared the work of one artist. The queen was quoted elsewhere as saying “Oh I suffered cruelly. I cried much… For several days my hands stayed large as breadfruits. It was in vain that I asked my mother to put an end to my suffering. All was useless. It was necessary that the tattooing of my hands and arms to my shoulders, of the feet and the knees, of the mouth and the ears, reveal my noble origin…"

A classic of Pacific ethnography

A classic of Pacific ethnography

An Album of the Weapons, Tools, Ornaments, Articles of Dress &c of the Natives of the Pacific Islands… by James Edge-Partington and Charles Heape is a fundamental work on the native art and artefacts of the Pacific, it is only very occasionally offered for sale. 

Just 150 sets were published over nine years from 1890; a complete set in original condition as here has the wonderful series of 854 lithographically-illustrated sheets gathered together in the three rare original portfolio cases. 

Depicting Sir Joseph

Depicting Sir Joseph

From his return on James Cook's Endeavourportraits of Sir Joseph Banks by the most famous artists of the day strengthened his position as the great statesman of science, recognised by the King for increasing Britain’s scientific, imperial and commercial reputation. Three images: a proof engraving of Banks just returned on Cook's Endeavour; an unrecorded version of Banks's favourite portrait, captured mid-career by the daughter of a friend; and the rare 1795 first issue of the splendid satirical cartoon by James Gillray, capture Banks as the lion of Georgian Britain.

To mark the 250th and 200th anniversaries of Joseph Banks’s arrival on the east coast of Australia, and of his death in 1820, we are also offering a substantial collection of related material: see here.

A fine Pacific portrait

A fine Pacific portrait

Admiral Sir George Seymour (1787-1870) in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Pacific Station changed the course of Pacific history with significant repercussions in Sydney and leading to substantial realignments within the broader Pacific, and in the colonial relationship with Britain. Read more about the portrait he commissioned and his role in Pacific history.

La Découverte Australe

La Découverte Australe

A remarkable book, very rare indeed on the market, describing an imaginary voyage by flying machine to Australia by Nicolas Edmé Restif de la Bretonne. The work is as famous for its strikingly beautiful suite of engravings as for its remarkable text. An illustrated utopia, and a pioneering work in the genre of air navigation, it was published just two years before Montgolfier’s first balloon ascent, and is ‘undoubtedly the most significant work of science-based speculative fiction produced before the French Revolution’ (Brian Stableford, editor of the adaptation The Discovery of the Austral Continent by a flying Man, Hollywood, 2016).

Koapena

Koapena

A superb portrait by the Russian scientist and artist Miklouho-Maclay, depicting the striking New Guinean man Koapena (or “Quapena”), a chief in the region of Hood Lagoon, south-east of Port Moresby.

Navigating Cook

Navigating Cook

We invite you to enjoy this catalogue, part of a collaborative exhibition between Hordern House and leading art dealers Michael Reid. The exhibition at Michael Reid Gallery features works by 15 significant artists who have charted the nations changing attitudes to the cause and effects of the navigator Captain James Cook's first contact in Australia and New Zealand. In this catalogue, and alongside this modern examination, Hordern House is exhibiting original antiquarian material including maps, books and pictures. 

Meditations on the history of the book

Meditations on the history of the book

'Whatever they may do, authors do not write books.  Books are not written at all.  They are manufactured by scribes and other artisans, by mechanics and other engineers, and by printing presses and other machines.'  
 
So observed Roger Stoddard, the eminent book historian and former curator of Rare Books at Harvard, which is the starting point for a meditation on the history of the book by our colleague Anthony Payne, Hordern House's consultant in Europe. We are delighted to share it with you. Anthony's ongoing research project is a bibliographical study of the various travel books and other writings of Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616), and has been awarded a PhD for the first instalment of this. 
Andrea Corsali & the Southern Cross

Andrea Corsali & the Southern Cross

In 1515 Andrea Corsali, an Italian under the patronage of the Medici family, accompanied a Portuguese voyage down the African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope, en route to Cochin, India. On his return Corsali's letter to his patron describing the voyage was published. It included the earliest illustration of the stars of the Crux, the group of stars known today as the Southern Cross. The context of his remarkable discovery is explored here in an essay by Anne McCormick, prepared  as a continuation of her study "The Book in the Renaissance" at the London Rare Book School, University of London, 2019.