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Alleen online: A Storehouse of Wonders. Treasures in the Alexander Turnbull Library, New Zealand. Part three

Verschenen in: De verwondering

Alexander Turnbull???s interest in everything to do with the sea and seafaring has resulted in a rich collection of voyages, especially as they relate to the Pacific Ocean. One of the most astonishing results of this interest is the 1608 manuscript of Bautista Antoneli.(40) Towards the end of the century, when the Spanish were struggling to maintain commercial and political supremacy in the Caribbean against a rising challenge from the English, Philip II of Spain employed Antoneli, an Italian engineer, to carry out a professional overhaul of the fortifications of the main cities along the shores of Central America. This manuscript, still bound in its Spanish cover of limp vellum, contains Antoneli???s descriptions and original 26 watercolours of plans of forts and towns in the Americas. This treasure was also acquired via Bernard Quaritch, from Lord Amherst???s sale at Sothebys in December 1908.(41)

Fig. 7. Watercolour ???Description and perspective of San Juan de Ul??a??? in Bautista Antoneli, Cartas ynstruciones y cedulas de su magestad i fortificaciones echas porel in genero, pp.138-139, (..... x .... mm). Alexander H. Turnbull collection. ATL ref: MS-0096. [casual photo]

Turnbull???s most expensive purchase was a complete set (including some variant editions and reissues) in both Latin and German of the De Bry compilation of 49 voyage accounts to the Americas, and to Africa and the Orient. The 87 volumes issued between 1590 and 1634 were acquired for him again by Bernard Quaritch, this time at the sale of the Huth Library in 1912 at a cost of ??825.(42) This sum would have bought Turnbull a house and section in Wellington. This extensive series containing over 600 large copper engravings provided early modern Europe with the first comprehensive iconographic representation of the overseas world and its inhabitants.(43) Images range from ceremonies, costumes, fishing, fighting, buildings, musical instruments, flora and fauna, and the bazaar, to gruesome depictions of cannibalism.

Fig. 8. Engraving
???Die Indianer giessen den Spaniern zuers??ttigung ihres Geizes geschmelzt Goldt in den Mund???, plate XX in Theodor de Bry, Das vierdte Buch von der Neuwen Welt., Oder, Neuwe vnd gru??ndtliche Historien [Franckfort am Mayn, 1594], (380 x 235 mm) Alexander H. Turnbull collection.
ATL ref: qRGer BRY Amer 1590 (4).

And so we could continue. For the Romantic enthusiast, there is the author???s proof for Elizabeth Barrett Browning???s Runaway slave (1849); the ???lost??? copy of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The friend (1812) with the 1808 Prospectus for The Friend corrected in Coleridge???s hand; Robert Browning???s Aristophanes??? Apology (1875),  with autograph corrections and a letter to George Barnett Smith; and William Wordsworth???s moving elegy on Charles Lamb, To the dear memory of a frail good man (1836) with author corrections and two holograph manuscript notes by Wordsworth???s clerk, John Carter; to name just a few.(44) There is Algernon Swinburne???s copy of the printer???s proof of Poems and ballads (1866), with Swinburne???s autograph corrections, and the printer???s copy of the same work with corrections and the compositors identified (both with Moxon???s title page).(45) And for the Victorian enthusiast there is Frederick Marryat???s Poor Jack (1840), with Clarkson Stanfield???s unpublished original design for an illustrated title page bound in, and with duplicate impressions in proof state of four of the large engravings. (46)
       By world standards the rare book collection at the Alexander Turnbull Library is small, but it has a surprising number of Old World treasures collected by some of New Zealand???s early bibliophiles though in the main due to the obsessive collecting and wealth of one man, Alexander H. Turnbull. With New Zealand???s own written history now nearly 200 years old, it has its own treasures to collect, but the Old World artefacts continue to provide New Zealanders with links to a much older heritage and are a physical testimony to the astute collecting of our forebears. There is certainly enough evidence for the claim stated at the outset that the Turnbull Library is a ???storehouse of wonders???; on a small scale certainly, but wonders none the less.


The title-page, prefatory leaf and two watercolours from this manuscript are reproduced in facsimile in Bernal Diaz del Castillo, The true history of the conquest of New Spain , ed. Genaro Garcia; translated into English with introduction and notes by Alfred Percival Maudslay (London: Printed for the Hakluyt Society, 1908). Hakluyt Society Series II, vol. 23.
41. Ms note loosely inserted  in hand of Alexander H. Turnbull: ???bought by Bernard Quaritch at Lord Amherst???s sale at Sotheby???s in Dec. 1908 & purchased by me from him immediately afterwards.??? The catalogue for this sale (see above note 36) is currently unavailable for consultation.
42. Theodor de Bry and  J.I. de Bry, eds., India Occidentalis, 13 vols (Frankfurt and Oppenheim, 1590-1634), ATL qRGer Bry Amer 1590, qRGer BRY Voya 1590, voyages to the Americas in German and Latin respectively; and  Theodor de Bry and  J.I. de Bry, eds., India Orientalis, 12 vols (Frankfurt and Oppenheim, 1597-1630), ATL qRGer BRY India 1597, qRGer BRY India 1598, voyages to Africa and the Orient in German and Latin respectively.
43. For further detail about this astonishing series see Michiel van
Groesen, The representations of the overseas world in the De Bry Collection of voyages (1590-1634) (Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2008), passim.  
Some of the De Bry engravings are based on the water colours of John White. These can be viewed side by side at the following website: http://www.virtualjamestown.org/images/white_debry_html/jamestown.html Accessed 17 February 2011.
44. Call marks in order as follows: ATL REng BROW Runa 1849, REng COLE Frie 1812, REng BROW Aris 1875, REng WORD Ode 1836.
45. Algernon Charles Swinburne, Poems and ballads (London: Edward Moxon & Co., 1866), ATL REng SWIN Poems 1866. The other two letters are: a letter from the printer, W.I. Richardson, to Bernard Quaritch, 28 August 1905, regarding the provenance of the proof copy; and  a letter (no addressee) dated Nov 27 (no year) from Fryston Hall, Ferrybridge, Yorkshire, and signed Houghton i.e. Richard Monkton-Milnes, Lord Houghton, 1st Baron Houghton (1809-1885).
46. Frederick Marryat, Poor Jack , with illustrations by Clarkson Stanfield, R.A  (London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1840), ATL REng MARR Poor 1840.
Bautista Antoneli, ???Cartas ynstruciones y cedulas de su magestad i fortificaciones echas porel in genero???, ATL, MS-0096.