Highlights of this month’s list include two antique maps of Africa, a complete set of the Van Riebeeck Society’s First Series (with all the particularly elusive volumes), a number of James Walton books on indigenous architecture, several works on South African maritime history, and some titles on the topical subject of water-supply in our country.
Concerning the foundation of the Van Riebeeck Society in 1918, Frank Bradlow writes: “The object of the Society was ‘to print, or re-print, for distribution among the members and for sale to the public rare and valuable books, pamphlets and documents relating to the history of South Africa.’ This clause remains unchanged in the ‘Laws of the Society’, to the present day.” The Society’s Second Series now runs to forty-seven volumes, not all of which are readily available. However, the volumes in the First Series, particularly the early ones, are still harder to find. This month we offer the complete First Series, including the black tulips Reports of De Chavonnes and his Council, Mentzel’s Life at the Cape in the mid-eighteenth century and De Mist’s Memorandum containing recommendations for the form and administration of government at the Cape of Good Hope. During the period of the First Series, the Society, which has few parallels worldwide (the Hakluyt Society being one noteworthy example) remained true to its foundation aim of publishing “primary sources in southern African history, which were inaccessible to the average South African.”
The maps featured this month are particularly interesting. There is a lovely framed example of John Tallis’s Cape Colony map. The map of Africa that provides the cover illustration for this month’s list was somewhat harder to place. Not listed in either the Norwich or Tooley bibliographies, it is almost certainly extracted from John Trusler’s 20-volume work The Habitable World Described. Printed in 1793, it seems quite naïve in its conception of Africa, even for such a relatively early period. Trusler’s work is generally regarded as of variable trustworthiness, especially as regards the then exceedingly Dark Continent. It is fascinating to consider how our knowledge has advanced since Trusler’s times, when ‘Monomotapa’, ‘Hottentots’, ‘Lower Ethiopia’ or ‘Barbary Desart’ were sufficient to account for huges swathes of the African continent.
Among the maritime works on offer are monographs on the Union-Castle, Unicorn and Safmarine shipping lines. Marischal Murray’s classic Ships and South Africa is also listed, albeit in imperfect form, and there is a fine copy of the recent, but elusive Algoa Bay In the Age of Sail (1488 to 1917) – A Maritime Story.
Fresh water is now very restricted in the Western and Eastern Cape regions, but would be still more scarce were it not for dams such as those covered in Overberg Water: A History of the Duivenhoks and Rûensveld Rural Water Schemes and Streams of Life: The Water Supply of Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, both of which are to be found in our HYDROLOGY section.
The list can be found here:
As always, we hope we’ve found something for you.
Lindsay & Wendy