Online auc­tion of Africana and rare books

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - AUCTIONS -

CAPE TOWN-BASED online a ucti o n s i t e a nt i quar­ian auc­ 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.

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