New acquisition: Japan, described and illustrated by the Japanese

JapanThe Rare Book section of the Library and Information Service recently acquired a unique publication of the Folio Society. Japan, described and illustrated by the Japanese  is a two volume publication, bound in orange and black linen respectively, with gilt edges and multi-coloured endpapers made from original chiyogami paper, printed in Japan. A limited edition of 980 copies were produced. Anneke Schaafsma, Special Collections Librarian, shares more about the history of the original publication:

Een van die Folio Society se jongste pragpublikasies, Japan, described and illustrated by the Japanese  se twee volumes kan nou in die afdeling vir Beskermde Boeke besigtig word. Die boeke, 31,5 x 42 x 4,5cm. is onderskeidelik in oranje en swart linne gebind, al die sneë is verguld en die veelkleurige skutblaaie is gemaak van oorspronklike chiyogami-papier wat in Japan gedruk is.

Japan, described and illustrated by the Japanese is oorspronklik deur die JB Millet Company gedurende 1897-8 in verskeie uitgawes in Boston gepubliseer. Die 2012-uitgawe is gebaseer op die 10 volume de luxe-uitgawe wat deur Kapt. Francis Brinkley geredigeer is. Hy was op daardie stadium alreeds dekades lank in Japan woonagtig en was ’n joernalis sowel as die eienaar en redakteur van die Japan Mail. Brinkley het verskeie Japannese skrywers gevra om artikels soos “The early Japanese and their history” en “Observances and pastimes” te skryf om sodoende te probeer om die  geheimsinnige Japan aan Westerlinge te probeer verduidelik. Hedendaagse lesers moet in gedagte hou dat Japan aan die einde van die 19de eeu “oopgestel” is na twee eeue se selfopgelegde afsondering  –  die Westerse wêreld was gaande oor Japannese kuns en wou graag meer weet oor die geskiedenis, landskap en gebruike van dié onbekende land.

IllustrationDie oorspronklike werk het 259 gekleurde albumien-foto’s bevat. Elkeen van hierdie foto’s is in Japan gedruk, gewas, gefikseer, getint met goudchloried, gedroog, gesny, met die hand ingekleur en toe op sy korrekte plek ingeplak. Daar word bereken dat elke Japannese koloris net 3 foto’s per dag kon voltooi. Vir die hele de luxe-uitgawe (van 750 stelle) is 194,250 foto’s dus voorberei! Benewens die de luxe-uitgawe is verskeie ander uitgawes ook gepubliseer en honderdduisende foto’s is dus destyds gedruk en voorberei. Hierdie aandag aan detail het natuurlik veroorsaak dat dit ’n geweldige duur publikasie was. Die uitgewer het vooraf subskripsies van voornemende kopers verkry en die Japanse regering het ook finansiële ondersteuning verskaf.

Die illustrasies in die Folio Society se twee volumes is almal gedruk, maar gee ’n goeie aanduiding van hoe die oorspronklike foto’s gelyk het. Dit is ’n belewenis om deur die boeke te blaai en insae te kry in ’n vervloë lewenswyse uit ’n onbekende kultuur.

Diamond in the rough

In today’s South African antique book market, it is not very often that a collector of Africana stumbles accross something rare, unique and in a very good condition. The task of the Africana collector in an established Africana library is even more difficult, since most major collections in South Africa are quite complete.

It therefore gave me great pleasure discovering a little gem called The first of the South African diamonds by Frances Browne. This novelette by Frances Browne, the “Blind poetess of Donegal” (1816-1879), is a piece of juvenile fiction based on the history of the discovery of diamonds in South Africa. The book was published in 1887 by the Religious Tract Society and is interwoven with moral lessons and examples of good Christian conduct and it’s rewards.

Irish poet Frances Browne was blinded in infancy, but was a prolific author despite her disability. She is best known for her collection of childrens’ stories Granny’s wonderful chair and its tales of fairy times. She wrote a few stories on faraway places she has never been to and according to some critics, had the ability to capture the landscape and scenery of these places quite well.

The first of the diamonds in South Africa is set in Hopetown where the first diamond was discovered. The story is obviously fictional, but Browne interestingly named her characters after versions of the names of people involved in the real events. The main character is an adopted boy named Moris Niekirk (linking to Schalk van Niekerk who was said to have sold the first diamond). Young Moris befriends a Griqua called Swartzberg (which might refer to Swartbooi, a worker on farm in the district,  who was also believed to have found a diamond).

Whatever facts of fantasies inspired Browne’s story, and wherever she might have come accross them, this jewel is a precious read. Contemporary British attitudes toward Boers and native people in South Africa is evident throughout and her descriptions of the scenery with typical English references seem quaint to the modern reader.

From household product to work of art…

A very unique piece of art is currently on display in Special Collections. It is a small sculpture carved from traditional South African handmade soap, also known as “Boerseep” (literally Farmers’ soap). This unique piece was crafted by well-known South African poet and artist, Sheila Cussons, and it is the only piece of sculpture in the Cussons collection which is held at the Manuscripts Section of the Library and Information Service.

An inscription on the base explains that Cussons carved the piece for her father and mother in 1944. At that stage she had just finished her BA Honours in Fine Art and had started her Masters degree in Fine Art. This soap carving was a result of an assignment which formed part of a lecture series on Michaelangelo. Students were asked to carve items from either soap or candle wax. Sheila opted for the soap, because the idea of creating something beautiful from such an ‘uninspiring’ substance such as soap, fascinated her. The result was a series of small sculptures, called “Pieta”. We are very lucky that one of these survived and is still in excellent condition and being preserved under a custom made glass dome.

Nuwe aanwins: Skeepsrampe aan die Aghulas-kus

 Golgotha van die oseane: skeepsrampe aan die Agulhas-kus (Eversdal : Inset, 2012) deur Jeanette Grobbelaar is onlangs vir die Africana-afdeling aangewins. Grobbelaar gee feitelike vertellings van skeepsrampe aan hierdie gevaarlike kusstrook wat sy as volg beskryf: 

“Die kuslyn en waters wat bestryk word deur die lig van die Kaap Agulhas Vuurtoring is een van die geheimsinnigste gebiede in Suid-Afrika. ’n Oseaan wat die een dag nog in onskuldige reёlmaat in die helderste skakerings van groen en blou teen mosbegroeide rotse en skitterende sand aanspoel, maar die volgende totaal van gesig en aard kan verander”.

 Elke wrakgeskiedenis word afsonderlik beskryf en bronne word aangegee. Een van die mees aangrypende verhale is die geskiedenis van die Doncaster wat in 1836 in die Quoin Point-area gestrand het. Die verhaal is gebaseer op ’n ooggetuie se vertelling. Die Doncaster storie is een van die “grusaamste episodes wat aan die Agulhas-kus afgespeel het. Die enigste bewys dat ‘n skeepsramp plaasgevind het, was slegs die kuslyn wat besaai was met lyke, maar geen teken van die skip nie.

Verskeie ander bronne oor skeepswrakke aan die Suid-Afrikaanse kus is ook te vinde in Africana. ’n Inligtingsoektog op die biblioteek se databasis onder die onderwerp “Shipwrecks – South Africa” behoort ’n heel aantal bronne vir belangstellendes op te lewer.

“Echo after echo of the deepest toned thunder”

A recent acquisition to our Africana section has me marvelling once again at the scope of traveller’s journals in the 18th and 19th centuries and once again, at the provenance of these books. A copy of C.S. Stewart’s A Visit to the South Seas (New York, 1831) made it’s way to my desk recently. It is an account of the US Ship Vincennes’s journey halfway around the globe with a stop at the Cape of Good Hope.

The description of the Cape is pretty standard for the time, but the author did seem to be very impressed with the echo created by firing the ship’s guns against Table Mountain and describes the scene as follows:

 “We early exchanged salutes with a fortress on shore. The efffect of our guns against the cliffs of Table Mountain was grand beyond any thing of the kind I ever heard – echo after echo of the deepest toned thunder – intermingled with reverberations, like the discharge of a rapid feu de joie – rolled round and round the bay between every gun, as if a whole fleet were in action.”

What interested me regarding the book’s provenance was the ownership inscription in the book, stating that it belonged to a certain L. Lincoln Jr. of the US Navy who served (apparently proudly) on board the USS Guerriere in 1929. It seems as if L. Lincoln Jr.’s ownership inscription appeared in other books owned by him, as a quick search on the web brought up a book with the same inscription in a collection in the States. How Mr. Lincoln’s property eventually made its way to Stellenbosch, remains a mystery.

The USS Guerriere was one of the early frigates built in the United States (1814) and was named after the HMS Guerriere which famously battled against, and lost to the USS Constitution in 1812.

From St Heleen’s Baai to Hanglip

Nieuwe Kaart van de Kaap der Goede Hoope en der na by gelegen Landen

The Library and Information Service  recently had 98 historical maps of Africa digitised. These maps are currently showcased via the library’s Digital Collections webpage.

The maps are of significant value to researchers, but are equally interesting to any layman. Maybe it’s the recognition of the shape of Africa, slightly distorted in the older maps, or the recognition of a place name, misspelled and on the wrong spot, which catches one’s eye. It might even be the vignettes depicting the ferocious beasts of darkest Africa, but some element of these curious testimonials of time fuels the imagination of any person who chooses to look closer.

Many maps in the collection depict Southern Africa and a few also depict the Cape of Good Hope or parts of it, e.g. the map Nieuwe Kaart van de Kaap der Goede Hoope en der na by gelegen Landen by Isaac Tirion dating from 1763. In this map the most easterly point of False Bay is still referred to as “Hanglip” and not “Hangklip” as it is known today. The original Dutch name translates as ‘hanging lip’ and refers to the shape of the mountain at this point. According to New dictionary of South African place names by PE Raper, the modern form “Hangklip”, which means ‘hanging rock’ seems to be a corruption of the original name.

At Modder River

At Modder River cover
South Africa General Mission Series titles

A scarce 9 x 12 cm booklet with the title At Modder River: a few incidents of mission work amongst soldiers whilst under fire in South Africa, with eight illustrations, is a welcome new addition to the Africana pamphlet collection. According to the cover this little book by Arthur Mercer is number 13 in the “South Africa General Mission*” booklet series. This copy forms part of the sixth edition and is described as “140th thousand. Latest issue, brought up to date with further information” and cost just one penny!

The 30 unnumbered pages include text and eight illustrations. There are four reproductions of sketches of war scenes at Modder River and Magersfontein with the caption “From a sketch by Mr. Fred. Villiers. Special artist to the Illustrated News.”. The photographs in the booklet are of soldiers in Cape Town harbour and of the “Soldiers’ Homes” which were erected by South Africa General Mission as recreational facilities for soldiers. The text describes the support offered by Percy Huskisson and Mr. Darrol, members of the SA General Mission, after the battle of Modder River on 28 November 1899. They were also involved at the battle of Magersfontien. The booklet ends with tales of charity work among soldiers in Cape Town.

* The South Africa General Mission, officially founded on 3 January 1894, developed from the Cape General Mission which was founded on 12 March 1899 by Martha Osborn-Howe, Andrew Murray and Spencer Walton. The mission of the SAGM was to “evangelize the heathen, to rouse the Christian Church to a holier life, and to aid existing Evangelical Missions and Churches.”

’n Onlangse welkome toevoeging tot die Africana-pamfletversameling is die skaars 9 x 12 cm boekie At Modder River: a few incidents of mission work amongst soldiers whilst under fire in South Africa, with eight illustrations. Volgens die buiteblad is hierdie werkie deur Arthur Mercer deel van die “South Africa General Mission* Booklet Series, No. 13”. Hierdie kopie vorm deel van die sesde uitgawe: “140th thousand. Latest issue, brought up to date with further information.” Dit het destyds een pennie gekos.

Die bladsye (30) is ongenommer en bestaan uit teks en agt illustrasies. Daar is vier reproduksies van sketse van oorlogstonele by Modderrivier en Magersfontein met die onderskrif: “From a sketch by Mr. Fred. Villiers. Special artist to the Illustrated News.” Die foto’s is van soldate in die Kaapse hawe en van die “Soldiers’ Homes” wat deur die SAGM ingerig is as ontspanningsareas vir soldate. Die teks beskryf die ondersteuningswerk wat mnr. Percy Huskisson en mnr. Darrol (lede van die SAGM) by Modderrivier gelewer het ná die slag van 28 November 1899. Hulle was ook betrokke by die slag van Magersfontein. Die boekie word afgesluit met vertellings van liefdadigheidswerk onder soldate in Kaapstad.

* Hierdie organisasie vloei voort uit die Cape General Mission wat op 12 Maart 1889 deur Martha Osborn-Howe, Andrew Murray en Spencer Walton gestig is. Die stigtingsdatum van die SAGM is 3 Januarie 1894 en hulle doelstellings was as volg: “ … to evangelize the heathen, to rouse the Christian Church to a holier life, and to aid existing Evangelical Missions and Churches.”

Illustration

Die Sutherlandse digterboer

Extract from poem
Extract from poem

Die Dokumentesentrum van die Biblioteek- en Inligtingsdiens beskik oor ‘n besonderse versameling handgeskrewe gediggies, fyn versier met blompatrone en kalligrafie.

Dié unieke handgeskrewe bundeltjie wat dateer uit 1885, bevat die werk van DC (Daniel Christiaan) Esterhuyse (1815-1897) wie se gedigte beskou word as van die eerste literêre pogings in Afrikaans. Dit is meestal godsdienstige gedigte, geskryf vir sy familie. Die gedigte is blykbaar destyds in drie uitgawes gepubliseer, maar sover bekend is slegs die 1935 uitgawe, herdruk deur sy seun, nog in omloop.

Meer inligting oor die digter kan gevind word in die Suid-Afrikaanse Bibliografiese Woordeboek, vol. II.

The Manuscripts Section has an interesting collection of handwritten poems, embellished with flowers and calligraphy, dating from 1885.

The little booklet contains the poetry of DC (Daniel Christiaan) Esteruyse (1815-1897), a farmer from Sutherland. It is considered to be some of the earliest pieces of Afrikaans literary writing. It consists mostly of religious poetry, written for his family.

Further reading:
Dictionary of South African Biography, vol. II.

Rare Rugby Waltz

Our Springbucks Waltz

Judging by the photographs of the six heroes which adorn the cover, namely JD (Japie) Krige, Paul Roos, HA (Boy) De Villiers, AC (Steggie) Stegmann, Steve Joubert and Bob Loubser, as well as the team photograph, one would assume that this walz was composed in celebration of the famous 1906/1907 Springbok Rugby tour to Great Britain. This was the first Springbok rugby tour abroad and established the team as a force to be reckoned with on rugby fields around the world.

The publication itself does not offer any other clues, except that it was published in Cape Town. Other music pieces was also composed and dedicated to the Springboks of 1906/07, such as  “The Springbokken Waltz” composed by SV Landau and the “Springbok March” composed by D Walker.

Further reading:

Seasons of glory by Chris Schoeman. CJS Rugby Books, 2006.
Springbok-Rugbyprestasies deur LB Potgieter. Johannesburg : Voortrekkerpers, 1960.
112 years of Springbok rugby, 2003.
The Carolin papers compiled and edited by Lappe Laubscher and Gideon Nieman. Pretoria : Rugbyana, 1990.

Additional information / Bykomende inligting:

Hierdie biografiese inligting oor Hann is op 15 Maart deur prof Gerhard Geldenhuys, genealogiese navorser, ontvang.

Alfred Henry Hann is in 1862 in Glastonbury, Somersetshire in Engeland gebore, ’n seun van Edwin Reuben Hann en Victoria Crouch.  Hy is op 14 Mei 1922 in Oos-Londen oorlede.  Hy het in die St. John’s Church in Oos-Londen  in die huwelik getree met Bridget Arlow.  Sy het hom oorleef.  Uit die huwelik is drie dogter en drie seuns gebore in die tydperk vanaf 1883 tot 1901.

Alfred Henry Hann was ’n stasiemeester, onder andere by die Mount Stewart stasie in die Jansenville-distrik en die Vincent stasie in Oos-Londen.

Hoewel ek nie bewyse daarvoor kon vind nie, is hy hoogs waarskynlik die komponis van ’n lied vir Paul Roos se Springbokspan.  In die eerste plek kon ek geen ander persoon met daardie name in daardie tyd in Suid-Afrika opspoor nie.  In die tweede plek is daar ’n interessante rigtinggewer in sy boedeldokumente.  Daar word gelys dat hy onder ander die volgende nalaat (met die geskatte waardes):  ’n klavier (£120), ’n musiekkabinet (£1-10), twee musiekstoele (gesamentlik £1) en ’n grammofoon (£20).   Duidelik was die stasiemeester en/of sy vrou lief vir musiek!

Ek kon geen sterfkennis vir Bridget Hann kry nie.  Die egpaar se kinders moet ook al oorlede wees.  Miskien sal daar van die kleinkinders wees wat nog leef en inligting kan voorsien.
Bron:  Sterfkennis en boedeldokumente MOOC 6/9/2304: 1523, Kaapse Argiefbewaarplek.

'n Vergete 'pop'ster

Title page

(ENGLISH TRANSLATION BELOW)

Ons het onlangs op twee interssante kinderboeke in die kinderboekafdeling van die Beskermde Versameling afgekom, naamlik Op Trek: ‘n boek vir seuntjies en Riena Reinet: die storie van ‘n Afrikaanse pop. Hierdie boekies is albei deur Reenen J van Reenen geskryf én geillustreer en in 1917 uitgegee.

Reenen Jacob Van Reenen (1884-1935) was ‘n siviele ingenieur wat onder andere in die Verenigde State aan die Lehigh Universiteit in Pennsylvania gestudeer het. Van Reenen was ook ‘n skrywer en een van die veelsydige intellektueles wat die Victoria College (Stellenbosch) gedurende die eerste paar jaar van die 20ste opgelewer het. Hy was een van die eerste skrywers wat spesifiek aandag gegee het aan die kortverhaalvorm in Afrikaans en was ook bekend vir die skryf van spookstories in Afrikaans.

Illustration from "Riena Reinet"

Wat die aandag onmiddellik getrek het was die titel van die popstorie, nl. Riena Reinet. Die afleiding is gemaak dat die storie gebasseer is op die sg. “Reinet-pop”, poppe wat in 1914 in Graaff-Reinet begin maak is deur die Laubscher familie, o.a. weens die feit dat poppe tydens die Eerste Wêreldoorlog onbekombaar was  Dit was die eerste poppe wat plaaslik in Suid-Afrika in ‘n fabriek vervaardig is en die hele gesin, asook ou manne en jong kinders is ingespan om die poppe te vervaardig. Voorbeelde van Reinet-poppe kan vandag nog by verskeie speelgoedmuseums in die land gesien word.

Reinet Doll

Bronne:
Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa, 1971, vol. 4
Suid-Afrikaanse Biografiese Woordeboek,  1977, vol. 3

We came accross two interesting Afrikaans childrens’ books in the Rare Books section recently, namely Op Trek: ‘n boek vir seuntjies  (a book for boys) en Riena Reinet: die storie van ‘n Afrikaanse pop (the story of an Afrikaans doll). These books were written and illustrated by Reenen J van Reenen and published in 1917.

Reenen Jacob Van Reenen (1884-1935) was a civil engineer who studied inter alia at the Lehigh University in Pennsylvania in the USA. He was also a writer and one of the intellectuals which Victoria College (Stellenbosch) produced in the early twentieth centrury. He was one of the first writers who explored the short story format in Afrikaans and was also a pioneer in the writing of Afrikaans ghost stories.

What immedeatly grabbed our attention was the title of the doll’s story “Reina Reinet”. We assumed that the story was based on the Reinet doll. These dolls were being made in Graaff-Reinet in 1914 by the Laubscher family as dolls were not freely available in South Africa during the First World War. These were the first dolls produced in South Africa and the whole family as well as old men and young children worked in the factory. Examples of Reinet dolls can still be seen in various toy museums throughout South Africa.

More information on reinet dolls from Antiques in South Africa.