“I couldn’t help it. I happen to have been born to do it.

I am sure that I would have been a rotten failure doing anything else.”

~ Ends Of The Earth ~

Friday, February 4, 2011

Collecting Roy Chapman Andrews Part 2

 By the time his first book was published Andrews was already deeply immersed in preliminary land exploration in Asia. No longer content to work in an office or laboratory most of the year, Andrews developed a desire to do field work and exploration, away from the modern city, preferably somewhere little known. With the support of Henry Fairfield Osborn, then director of the Museum, funds from financial giants like J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller were forthcoming. Assisted further by monies raised personally through public lectures, Andrews led a series of expeditions to Asia. Yvette Andrews recorded the expeditions in both still photographs [including some of the earliest colour] and motion pictures.

In recognition of his ability he was appointed director of the museum’s First Asiatic Expedition to Tibet, south-west China, and Burma. This general stocktaking expedition on the edge of the Central Asian plateau was the first of a series of such expeditions directed by Andrews to gain information by which to guide more extensive explorations planned for the future. Appleton’s earlier gamble would be amply rewarded with Andrews’ next two books;
Camps And Trails In China, and Across Mongolian Plains.

First Edition D. Appleton & Co. 1918
Gilt Stamped on Cloth.

The infectiously enthusiastic
Camps And Trails In China, co-authored and illustrated by Yvette, is a rich narrative of travel and hunting while traversing southern China, Vietnam, and Burma, at that time part of the Chinese Empire. Although technical in some areas, scientific reporting was avoided. Success of this book can be measured by its subsequent reprintings [1919, 1920, 1925,] at a time when first-hand accounts of the Great War, and the puerile novels of Harold Bell Wright were best sellers for Appleton. Both books have now become widely available as print on demand monstrosities, often at higher prices for a poorly bound photocopy, than a decent reading copy of the original edition.

Dust jacket of First Edition.  D. Appleton & Co. 1921

First Edition D. Appleton & Co.  1921
Gilt stamped on cloth

Across Mongolian Plains Andrews succeeds in communicating the “boyish” excitement that animated him as he rode and motored over Northern China and Mongolia, an explorer in a strange place among strange peoples. Despite only sparse illustration, and use of the first person pronoun up to a dozen times per page, the exuberant narrative written from a sportsman’s view point sold well. 

Blue Ribbon Books Reprint.  Undated [Ca. 1930]
Blue Ink stamped on Buckram

However, Appleton’s was now moving towards fiction by authors like Zona Gale and Edith Wharton, and published only the first edition of this last project with Andrews. 

Dust Jacket of Blue Ribbon Books Reprint.  Undated [Ca. 1930]

Subsequent reprintings were handed to Blue Ribbon Books, and Garden City Publishing, initiating a trend that continued into the 1940’s after first editions by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and Viking Press. 

During this period of initial exploration into Asia he became enamored of the theories of William Diller Matthew and HenryFairfield Osborn. Matthew, a renowned palaeontologist at the American Museum, regarded Central Asia as the centre of origin for most mammals, and Osborn believed that it would prove the birthplace of humans. To test these theories it would be necessary to find the fossil evidence.

Advertisement.  May 1921.