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  • Harpoon at a Venture (In the Scottish Islands) – Gavin Maxwell – 1955 Edition

    Harpoon at a Venture (In the Scottish Islands) – Gavin Maxwell – 1955 Edition

    First published in 1952 this is the 1955 Adventure Library edition of the first work by “Ring of Bright Water” author Gavin Maxwell.

    Octavo, 254 pages with six maps, including in end papers 23 illustrations from photographs and eight illustrations in the text.

    Maxwell had active service with the Special Forces in WWII. After the war he purchased the Isle of Soay off Skye in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland. There he attempted to start a Basking Shark fishery … which failed due to lack of finance.

    This book covers his exploits in that regard and provides a perfect picture of the Scottish Islands and the adventurous activities that ensue.

    Gavin Maxwell with the Sharks before the Otter.


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  • Heroes of the Polar Seas – J Kennedy Maclean – First edition 1910

    Heroes of the Polar Seas – J Kennedy Maclean – First edition 1910

    Title continues … A Record of Exploration in the Arctic and Antarctic Seas by J Kennedy Maclean. Thick octavo, 382 pages. Magnificent pictorial boards, rich gilt to all page edges, well illustrated and with two excellent fold out maps of the top and the bottom with swathes unexplored areas.

    The pictorial boards may give the impression this was for a younger audience. The quality of the content and writing suggest the market was father and son. Very good condition, prize label “Madras College”.

    Written chronologically with an introduction of “Gains and losses of Polar Enterprise” before the “Pioneers”. The search for the North-west passage and Franklin and much about his horrors. Nares and then the fatal “Jannette” an incredible story often lost in these accounts. The discovery of Franz Josef Land and the North-east Passage by Nordenskiold (see or commemorative medal). Nansen followed by Andree’s Balloon attempt (see our second printing and commemorative medal). Peary and the success of the North Pole after twenty years … and Cook.

    In the South, Scotland’s share of the then exploration and Scott’s Discovery Expedition. Shackleton’s Farthest South (so close) and the great race for the Pole.

    At the time of publication Scott was already there with the Terra Nova and a large experienced team to continue his previous work and to attempt the Pole. The end of the book suggests that the Scots and the Germans were making preparation but nothing of Amundsen … who a year later in December 1911 would beat Scott and his colleagues to the desolate spot at the very bottom of the World … Scott and his party perishing on the return.

    Polar Exploration nicely done and 1910 the year before the attainment of the Pole and the tragedy



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  • Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland; from the dissolution of the last Parliament of Charles II till the Capture of the French and Spanish Fleets at Vigo – Three Volumes – Sir John Dalrymple -1790

    Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland; from the dissolution of the last Parliament of Charles II till the Capture of the French and Spanish Fleets at Vigo – Three Volumes – Sir John Dalrymple -1790

    A new edition 1790 updating his first offering about twenty year earlier that finished at the time of the sea battle of La Hogue. Published by Strahan & Cadell, Bell, Creech & Balfour, London and Edinburgh, 1790.

    Three volumes, octavo, a beautiful set in contemporary mottled calf, banded spine with red morocco title label and green morocco volume number lozenge. Almost edible.

    A vert attractive set of an important work with original owner name Alexander Fraser Tyler, a distinguished Scottish Advocate at the head of the title.

    Sir John Dalrymple (1726-1810) was the 4th Baron of Cousland and Scottish Advocate, Judge and Chemist. He studied at Edinburgh and Cambridge and was a friend of David Hume and Adam Smith. In writing this large work he had access numerous original manuscript documents.

    Of Australian interest the volumes contain … “An Account of an Intended Expedition in the South Seas by Private Persons in the Late War” which relates to Sir John Dalrymple’s attempts to persuade merchants of Glasgow to organise a privateering expedition against Spain in the Pacific. There are numerous references to New Holland and the discoveries of James Cook.

    Because of these early Australian references these volumes are included in Ferguson’s bibliography of all books Australian at number 78.

    Important 18th Century memoir in fine style with Australian interest and important provenance.

    About the first owner Alexander Tytler

    Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouslee (1747-1813) was a Scottish advocate, judge, writer who serve as Professor of Universal History, Greek and Roman Antiquities at Edinburgh University. In 1790, around the time he purchased these volumes, he became Judge Advocate of Scotland and in 1802 he became a Lord of Session in the Scottish Courts. He was a friend of Robert Burns and famously persuaded Burns to remove several lines from “Tam o’Shanter”’ which had insulted the legal profession.


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  • Round the World Non-Stop – John Ridgway and Andy Briggs

    Round the World Non-Stop – John Ridgway and Andy Briggs

    Published by Patrick Stephens, Wellingborough, England in 1985 a first edition. Octavo, 236 pages well illustrated from coloured photographs and with charts, diagrams and good technical content.

    John Ridgway and Andy Briggs sailed their 57 foot ketch “English Rose VI” around the world non-stop in 1983/4. The departed from Ardmore in the far north-west of Scotland and made it all the way back in 203 days, then the fastest on record.

    Ridgeway, another Voyager hero, formerly in the Parachute Regiment … rowed the Atlantic with Chay Blyth and sailed it single handed. He led expeditions to the upper Amazon, the Southern Andes of Patagonia, the Sahara and the Himalayas .. he also went round the world in the Whitbread race. Our sort of bloke.

    Top class account of a record breaking voyage


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  • Wandering Under Sail – Eric Hiscock

    Wandering Under Sail – Eric Hiscock

    A re-issue of Eric Hiscock’s 1939 book on his earlier sailing experiences.

    Published by Oxford University Press in 1977. Octavo, 244 pages, well illustrated and in very good if not fine condition.

    He bought his first boat on a Wednesday, set sail of Thursday and she was wrecked on Friday. Most would be put off by that but not Eric who went on to be surely one of the great sailors of the modern era. This is about his early ventures to Ireland and the west coast of Scotland and down to Brittany and a full account of the building of Wanderer II … there were to be more Wanderers before he was finished. In this re-issue an additional chapter has been added describing a 1950 cruise to Spain and the Azores.

    Hiscock and the beginning of his Wandering!


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  • Copepoda Male Monstrilla Anglica – Microscope Slide – James Hornell – 1900

    Copepoda Male Monstrilla Anglica – Microscope Slide – James Hornell – 1900

    A very good prepared slide marked very rare in terms of subject. Nice description label and a superb optical example. Preparer – Hornell Biological Station, Jersey.

    The marine beauty, Monstrilla Anglica was first described by J Lubbock in 1857. It’s larvae live inside the blood vessels of polychaete worms.

    James Hornell was educated in Scotland and Liverpool and set up the Jersey Station in 1893. He received support as the local oyster and lobster industry was in trouble. However, lack of Government funding saw the station close in 1904. He went to Ceylon and was given as Government Marine Scientist and then four years later to Madras.

    As a result of his work on Marine worms he was made a Fellow of the Linnean Society in 1904.

    After his work in India he had a complete change in life and travelled around Asia as a ethnologist and became an expert in watercraft design.

    He died back in England in 1949 aged 83. It is claimed that he was the first full time paid Marine Scientist.

    Rare and well prepared slide – James Hornell


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