Online auction of Africana and rare books
CAPE TOWN-BASED online a ucti o n s i t e a nt i quarian auctions.co.za is holding its last of eight Africana and rare book auctions for the year this week. The sale ends at 6.30pm on Thursday, December 8.
Nineteen booksellers from South Africa and abroad are offering more than 400 items on the auction, which runs on www. antiquarianauctions. co. za.
“Today we are used to finely printed photographic books with colour and black and white images, but in the late 19th century the techniques for printing photographs were in their infancy,” says Paul Mills of antiquarianauctions.
“Before about 1 8 8 0 t he method was to paste in or to use the technical term, lay down, photographic prints made in a photographer’s studio.
“The first album of SA photographs produced in this way was Sam Alexander’s Photographic Scenery of South Africa, published in Syracuse, New York in 1880. It comprises 100 original photographs laid down on stiff leaves contained in an elaborately gold decorated leather album. Not much is known about Sam Alexander except that he travelled in South Africa in 1880 taking a series of photographs for his album.
“His advert in the Argus on April 20, 1880 reads: ‘S Alexander respectfully announces to the Public of South Africa and all interested in this continent… a Photographic Album... of its scenery and most prominent institutions. Price 5 Guineas. No money to be collected in advance.’ A copy of the scarce album is offered on the auction with an estimate of R12 500.”
Following the recent travelling exhibition the work of the SA photographer Ernest Cole, his work has become more familiar in the country of his birth. Cole left SA for exile in New York in 1966. A year later he published his seminal series of photographic essays House of Bondage. He wrote: “Threeh u n d r e d y e a r s o f whi t e supremacy in South Africa has placed us in bondage, stripped us of our dignity, robbed us of o ur s e l f - e s t e e m a nd s ur - rounded us with hate.”
Set in the 1950s and 1960s, it is an indictment of the inhumane conditions under which black South Africans were forced to live during apartheid. The collection is seen as Cole’s single- greatest achievement. He was the first photojournalist to expose to the world the stark realities of life under the apartheid regime. House of Bondage was i mmediately banned in South Africa and remains scarce. Life in exile treated Cole harshly and he died largely unrecognised in 1990. In the auction a very unusual signed presentation copy is offered with an estimate of R8 500.
For many South Africans, the appreciation of local and anecdotal history started with reading the books written by Lawrence G Green, who died nearly 30 years ago and was the author of 33 books. His first book, The Coast of Treasure, was published in 1933 and he wrote five more books that were published in England before World War II. After the war, in conjunction with the publisher Howard Timmins, he published a book a year until his death. At the times these were enormously popular with print runs of 20 000 copies or more – huge by today’s standards. Green was a retiring character but he was also the protagonist of many aspiring writers. Perhaps the scarcest of his books is not a work of t r avel or history but The Authors’ Post War Guide a book writ t e n t o hel p a s p i r i ng authors to craft their books and to find publishers. A copy is offered on the auction with an estimate of R600.
For golfers, two early booklets on the history of the game in SA are offered. There is a presentation copy of RG Fall’s History of Golf at the Cape, In Which Is Also Treated The Origin of the Game of Golf, Golf Stories and a Register of SA Clubs, published in 1918 (estimate R4 000) and a book entitled Golf in South Africa, Play it in Sunshine, published in 1936 (estimate R2 750).
A wide variety of other Africana and general books is being sold. All items are illustrated on the site. For further d e t a i l s e mai l s u p p o r t @ antiqurianauctions. co. za or call 021 794 0600.
CLASSIC: ‘Golf in South Africa, Play it in Sunshine’ is on offer.