Each of these Nautical-flavoured books has been specially selected and reviewed. In some cases they will be rare or difficult to obtain from within GB.
It is worth checking each one on Amazon. A good example might be the first one Harry Morgan's Way
It will be seen that in Paperback form the book may be accessed for about £10.99, but a hardback copy will be £69.60. The hardbacks are described as having underlines, highlighted areas and handwriting on pages. There are also 'New' copies for £674.98 and £811.29!
Harry Morgan’s Way
The Biography of Sir Henry Morgan 1635-1684.
by Dudley Pope
Secker & Warburg. First published 1977. Hardback copy with original flyleaf cover. Unmarked internally.
Condition. Good 377 Pages
Why is this particular copy special?
Title page autographed by the Author.
This scholarly study tells a tale of true adventure that it is difficult to believe is true and not a fiction lifted from a ‘Boy’s Own’ adventure. The author explains quite quickly that although Harry/Henry Morgan’s reputation is that of a pirate, this is misleading, for he achieved his success mainly as a commander of land forces. Underpinning the biographical details is a comprehensive history of the evolution of the ‘ownership’ of the many West Indies islands. This is invaluable to an understanding of their political differences in modern times. The map of the Caribbean at the beginning of the book is an essential tool. The chronology of warfare, alliances and politics in the area and back in Europe, together with the communication difficulties, due to the distance across the Atlantic are explained with clarity. The contrast between the apparently cultured 17C aristocracy and the sweating, hard drinking, hard fighting, high-risk, gamble-of-life that was the existence of the men in the islands and on the Spanish Main can be experienced and appreciated. Harry Morgan survived by strategic planning, by his ability to include and inspire his men, by thinking outside the box and, being prepared to act decisively when he found himself in a seemingly hopeless position. He is a Hollywood-style hero that Hornblower could have been modelled upon. Napoleon might have learned from him. It is an education to read this book. Our Price £60 + £2.50 P&P
By Adrian Seligman
Hodder & Stoughton. First printed 1950. 255 Pages.
Hard back copy with original illustrated colour cover by Rosemary Grimble.
Condition: Pages slightly yellowed by age and upper edges slightly brown mottled. Cover shows wear at top and bottom of spine.
Why is this particular copy special?
The unique attraction of this copy is that on the first inside blank page is handwritten:
Please return to:
(Complete address in Wimbledon)
The story is akin to the adventures of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, blended with some Swallows and Amazons with a dash of Biggles added to the mix. Its special attraction is the French location and the inclusion of parts of French songs (easy to translate with computer translators). The detailed map/chart before the title page is needed for constant reference, using a magnifying glass, to keep in touch with the movement of the action. The story is engaging and the author has a complete knowledge of weather, tide and sailing as well as the actual location where he and his brothers and sisters spent their childhood summer holidays. This all lends authenticity to the narrative. You don’t have to be a child to become intrigued by the story as it unfolds.
Amazon check shows a price range from £17 to £47. Their illustration shows the book without its colourful flyleaf which our book has.
We can point out that this book could possibly have belonged to its author, see the unique attraction above, hence its very special price £75 Plus £2.50 P&P
Sailing Barge Master
The Story of a Victorian Bargeman
By Captain George Winn
Chaffcutter Books 2009. 167 pages.
Condition: Very good. Almost as new.
A collection of memories written by a little-educated man about the hard realities of life whilst sailing Thames barges with mundane cargoes such as bricks, not only in the Thames estuary, but across the North Sea, along the South Coast and across to France. Life was hard growing up in London; hard when working under sail on the family barge from the age of 8; hard trying to move up the working ladder and very hard if you should damage your employer’s barge for you stood to be instantly dismissed. Barges were not the brightly painted, well maintained, photogenic craft of today. They were leaky, cranky, dangerous and under-manned tools of a disappearing trade. You needed muscles like coconuts, he advises us. George Winn was an optimist and despite the desperate hardship and shipwrecks he never faltered in his belief that he was fortunate to have had such a grand life. Winn’s papers have been edited by Richard Walsh. The book is copiously illustrated and has a wealth of explanatory notes to cover issues raised in the text. The appendices of added information and the listing of barge names and identifications would be of particular interest to enthusiasts.
Amazon check shows the price range to be £27 - £86 (USA) Our Price £23 + £2.50 P&P
If you have an interest in Thames barges there are books that cover different aspects of their life.
East Coast Sail Working Sail 1850-1970
by Robert Simper
Seafarer Books 1987 Edition Hardback with intact flyleaf cover. 112 pages
Condition: Almost as new. There is slight light-fading of the front cover, visible in the image.
For pictures of barges and fishing craft in many East Coast locations and the men that worked them there are few books better than Robert Simper’s East Coast Sail. There is at least one picture per page and often more. The short narrative is detailed, authoritative and of great interest. The craft are named, their cargoes discussed and it is of interest to compare the appearance places with what they look like today. Amazon check. Price range £12 - £99 (USA) + postage.
Our Price £10 + P&P £2.50
The May Flower A Barging Childhood
By Nick Ardley
Tempus Publishing Ltd. 2007 Soft cover 256 pages
Condition Very good, looking unread.
Special Note. Dedicated by the author Nick Ardley.
This is a weighty book telling the story of the author’s family upbringing aboard a working barge. It is about living aboard the barge and the immense amount of work that was involved for everyone concerned. It is unusual in that the child’s perspective is integral to the story and visible in the many black & white snaps of the children living in that world of ‘natural freedom’ that now seems to have disappeared, but which today is viewed with nostalgic longing by those who have not been fortunate enough to have experienced it. The history of the barge is told. The places are described.
Amazon check. Price range from about £8 - The one collectable copy at about £20 is signed, but has a clipped page and signs of annotation. There are reviews. Our copy is signed, not clipped and with unmarked pages. Our Price £13 + P&P £2.50.
The Last Sailorman
by Dick Durham
Terence Dalton Ltd Publishing 1989 Hardback with intact and unmarked Flyleaf cover. 160 pages
Condition Very good, could be unread as the glossy dust cover is not easy to protect from indentations. The flyleaf dust cover is excellent but has very slight light fading along top and spine edge.
This is the biography of Bob Roberts written by a skilled, experienced and knowledgeable author who continues to write regularly for Yachting Monthly. Bob Roberts is arguably the most famous barge skipper as he was the last man trading under sail in these craft in Cambria. His sailing life was not restricted to the East Coast. In his youth he set sail with a friend to try to find the fabled treasure on Cocos island off Costa Rica in the Pacific sailing a 27ft gaff cutter from England. This is only the start of an adventurous life by which Bob Roberts amassed a memorable mass of 'yarns' as sailor's tales are known. Many of the scrapes, escapes, disasters and tales of endurance are captured in this book. Dick Durham began his sailing employment as a 17 year old with Bob Roberts (and his dog) so he has the highest involvement with Bob, his family and the many colourful characters, locations and situations that trading under sail involves.
Amazon Check. Prices from £8.99 - £13 One at £42.30 One at £587 USA. Cheap copies are ex-library and descriptions include acceptable (the lowest rating of condition) creasing, grubbiness, notes on pages. Illustration has no dust cover. Our price £12 + £2.50 P&P.
Note the title The Last Sailorman.
There is another book that uses the same cover photograph called Last of the Sailormen.
This is by Bob Roberts himself.
Last of the Sailormen
by Bob Roberts
First published 1960, but this is the softback, 1986 Seafarer version. 137 pages.
Condition: Unopened, but pages have browned around edges during storage.
It contains the original full-page B&W Plates and the 7 sketches by Ann Roberts (daughter).
The book is about the trials and tribulations of sailing barges, mainly within the Thames estuary area. Much of what can be said about the book above in the way of yarns, colourful characters and locations also apply to this book, but they are written by the man himself.
Amazon Check. Prices vary widely from about £3 (only 'acceptable' condition) to about £4.50. Our Price £2.50 + £1.50 P&P
The Magic of the Swatchways 1949
By Maurice Griffiths with Plate illustrations by F. B. Harnack
Published Edward Arnold & Co. 1949 Hardback with flyleaf dustjacket.
Condition. Aged and patinated with brown mottling, especially on Plate pages.
Why is this particular copy special?
It is currently unavailable. (Check on Amazon)
This book was first published in 1932 with a cheaper edition in 1937, then reprinted in 1944, 1946 and in 1949. There have been reprints since then and the latest glossy version has added pictures and a forward by Dick Durham (see books above). The 1932 and 1944 versions are now ‘not available’ and it would appear that the 1949 copies have also been rounded up by collectors. This is what makes this this particular book so special … its condition. It isn’t shiny. When you see it you want to pick it up with those white cotton protective gloves that archivists use. It speaks in the same language as its contents, but you may have to have read it to understand that. If you have not read it, look at the reviews on Amazon. These are some of the descriptive phrases: all time classic, beautifully written, evocative, superb read, marvellous book, timeless descriptions, atmospheric. Even these descriptions do not capture it. On a winter’s night, snuggled into a deeply-buttoned, leather-bound armchair, before a flickering fire, turn the pages and read the first sentence in my copy of the book to be transported into the picture that he paints. You will continue to read, sail where he sails, in the times that he relates.
Amazon check. You can read the 2000 version for about £15 in paperback or about £55 in hardback, but if you want to secure a 1946 version then you are moving into Collector territory at close to £70. We pride ourselves on the high quality of our books many of which are unopened, but the condition of this 1949 version is the exact opposite and that is why it is special. This might seem rather unusual, but I don’t want to sell my unobtainable copy. I treasure it. I might consider an offer that I couldn’t refuse … so how much would that be? It’s up to you.