Quagga Rare Books and Art

NEWSLETTER - June 2011

"FRIGHTFUL TRAGEDY AT THE CAPE"

About a year ago, I purchased a small leather bound frame containing 4 early portrait photographs on glass.
The first photograph is of a man in his twenties, seated, with a small boy. Opposite that is a photograph of a woman of a similar age. Labels to the bottom of the images tell us that this is Christiaan Bothma (sic.) and Susanna Bothma(sic.), husband and wife in all likelihood.
Turning the image over as the booklike frame requires reveals the second set of images, the first being of a man in handcuffs and convict attire and the name label stating A. Batist.
The second image is of a man similarly attired, with the name of L. Cupidos.

Through style of dress and the method of photography used, I estimated that they were taken around the 1860's, making them very early examples of photography in South Africa. The previous owner informed me that there was an interesting, if somewhat morbid story behind this item.
Her late husband, Dominee Hopkins, who had written a number of books on mostly theological history in South Africa, had told her that the family in the first two images had been murdered by the two men in the second two images. She believed that the incident had happened in Tulbagh, and that her husband had written an article about the murder for Huisgenoot, whilst a student.
Unfortunately she could not find the article, nor remember when it had been written. But she was sure that she would have a copy somewhere.

As a dealer one has a passing relationship with one's stock. An item is bought in with the idea of selling it on, and if the dealer can add value to the item he is doing his job well. Whether it is restoring an old leather binding, finding a missing volume or plate or establishing the provenance of some rare ephemera. It is this "adding to value" that fascinates me about what I do. Naturally I was intrigued, and looked forward to reading Ds. Hopkins' article, and finding out more about this tragedy.

After a few months Mrs. Hopkins had not been able to locate the article. In the meantime I had done some research of my own. But had unfortunately come up with very little indeed.
A search in my genealogical reference books and on the internet for Christiaan Bothma, Susanna Bothma, A. Batist and L. Cupidos, yielded no results that related to my search. Examining the photographs as historical items in their own right, I was able to establish the following: on the name labels of the two prisoners, is the name H. L. Keet. This I was able to ascertain was the photographer.
According to Secure The Shadow, by Majorie Bull and Joseph Denfield, Keet was a photographer at Swellendam and Tulbagh in the 1860's. He was known to have produced portraits on glass and leather. These images, on glass, approx 7cm x 8.5cm, are known as ambrotypes, or collodion "glass positives".

So I was able deduce that these photographs were in all likelihood from the Tulbagh area and from the 1860’s.
Rare and early Cape images, but I could not put them up for sale without finding out more about the supposed murder. Being able to place the photographs as coming from Tulbagh, I contacted the experts on the area, Gwen and Gawie Fagan. Unfortunately they had no knowledge of a murder in Tulbagh at that time.
Next I went to the compact storage of the Stellenbosh University Library in order to try to track down the elusive Huisgenoot article. I was faced with a wall of bound copies of the magazine, from the 1930’s right up to the 1990’s. One volume a week! I was beginning to feel as though I was looking for the proverbial needle that may or may not be in the haystack.
Fortunately Mr. Niel Hendriks of the University Library was on hand to help me with an index of all the articles written for Huisgenoot. I felt as though we were getting close as together we scanned the names of authors, and then there it was. Hopkins, Tragedy in Tulbach. I located the article and began to read in earnest. I soon discovered a problem. This murder happened in 1821, photography had not been invented yet. This article was about an entirely differed story: a gruesome farm murder by two assailants, but only one victim.
I was beginning to feel as though I was never going to find this story, and had doubts about its truth. I had spoken to people at UCT History department and at the Stellenbosch University Law archives. All agreed that there should most certainly be a record of an incident like this, but no information was forthcoming.

Next I went to see Mr. Leon Endemann at GISA in Stellenbosch.
Mr. Endemann listened to my story and then started searching. After some time he found a death notice for Christian Jacobus Botma, in Tulbagh in about 1879. This was too late but it was possible that we were looking for one of his children. Records showed that he had three. None were called Christia(a)n.
But he had remarried; perhaps he had fathered a child with his second wife. Mr. Endemann suggested that we look up his death notice to see how many children he had.
Whilst searching an index of death notices, right next to the notice of 1879 that we were searching for was a notice for a Christia(a)n Bot(h)ma who died in 1861 and below that a Suzanna Botma who also died in 1861.
This must be it I thought. We wrote down the index numbers and went to retrieve the film that the registers are recorded on. As we got to the page number indicated by the index we discovered that there had been a cataloguing mistake and that this was a death notice for an entirely different person. However Mr. Endemann’s experience told him to look a few pages before and after this notice.

And finally there they were. Christian Jacobus Botma, died plaats de Kruysvaly (Tulbagh), 1 August 1861, age 25.
Susanna Louiza Petronella Botma (nee Du Toit), died plaats de Kruysvaly, 3 August 1861, age 24.
Survived by "1 jongetjie met naam van Christian Jacobus Botma", their son.
Finally these facts and in particular the fact that they died so close together made the story all the more plausible.
I now had a date and the correct spellings of the names. Armed with this I was able to locate a newspaper article written for the Cape Argus, August 8 1861. This article had been scanned and was online in the collection of the National Library of New Zealand of all places. This is a link to the article that describes the tragedy in all its gruesome detail.

The article names Adrien Patis as the murderer, no doubt a variation of the spelling on the label A. Batist and the description of Patis fits the image of him. Further research revealed that he confessed to the murders on 30th September 1861 at the Tulbagh Circuit Court and was sentenced to death.

At the same time, Lambert Cupido, a farmer in the Tulbagh area confessed to murdering his daughter and was also sentenced to death. He is the fourth person.

The only mystery that remains is why someone would compile such a morbid collection of photographs. And the presence of the fourth photograph and its association with a seemingly unrelated crime is even more mysterious. One can only wonder about this and whether there is any connection between these crimes.

 

Online Auction

Our mini auction will end at 5pm on Friday 24 June 2011. Please note that postage will be calculated separately, according to your location and requirements.

The following books are on offer this month:

The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern Africa

The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern Africa
Reserve: R2500.00
Blue Cloth cover with very slight bumping to corners. Inscribed by both authors. Very good clean tight copy.
Please click here to bid

Dusklands

Dusklands
Reserve: R1700.00
First edition. First printing of the author’s first book, Light gray-brown cloth with gilt title to spine, in original pictorial dust jacket. Dust jacket has some short closed tears and fraying to the extremities. Light foxing to dust jacket. The interior is spotless and appears to be unread.
Please click here to bid

A Cape Traveller’s Diary 1856

A Cape Traveller’s Diary 1856
Reserve: R240.00
With the authors own illustrations and sketches. Previous owner’s small sticker to free endpaper (author Phillida Brooke Simons). Dust jacket has light tape markings. An Account of Robert Wilmot’s visit to the Cape eastern frontier district and to Cape Town in 1856.
Please click here to bid

Old Transport Road – Rhodesia Reprint Library Volume Three

Old Transport Road – Rhodesia Reprint Library Volume Three
Reserve: R120.00
From the jacket flap “The Old Transport Road is a personal story of transport – riding and trading in south – eastern Rhodesia around the turn of the century. Hardships are part of the daily round, financial ruin his reward for ten years of unremitting toil.
Please click here to bid

The Green Horse in Ladysmith

The Green Horse in Ladysmith
Reserve: R1100.00
Good condition tight copy with map of Ladysmith in rear. A record in diary form, of the 5th Dragoon Guards who were engaged in the siege of Ladysmith. With descriptions of the battle of Elandslaagte.
Please click here to bid

My Friends The Baboons

My Friends The Baboons
Reserve: R180.00
This work, mainly about habits of and adventures with baboons, is a translation of articles written in Afrikaans by the late Eugene N Marais (the author of The Soul of the White Ant). The articles appeared originally in the newspaper Die Vaderland.
Please click here to bid

Guide to the Mulanje Massif

Guide to the Mulanje Massif
Reserve: R180.00
Dust jacket has some wear to edges and small loss to top of spine. Previous owner’s inscription in pencil. Good firm copy with fold out maps in the rear. A climbers and general explorer’s guide to the Mulanje Massif block of mountains in South East Malawi.
Please click here to bid

Bronwaters Van Genesing. Die tradisionele warm – waterkuur in ons volksgeneeskunde

Bronwaters Van Genesing. Die tradisionele warm – waterkuur in ons volksgeneeskunde
Reserve: R250.00
From the jacket flap “In Bronwaters van Genesing val die klem op die tradisionele waremwaterkuur. Dit gaan nie om ontspanningsoorde as sodanig of om die chemiese, fisiese en geologiese aspekte van die bronne nie...”
Please click here to bid

The Scramble for Art in Central Africa

The Scramble for Art in Central Africa
Reserve: R200.00
Paperback in good condition with a small with crease to the back cover. A reference to collecting in the Congo, with descriptions of the fascinating encounters between Western traders, missionaries, ethnographers, and African suppliers.
Please click here to bid

Sekoto – The Art Of Gerard Sekoto

Sekoto – The Art Of Gerard Sekoto
Reserve: R250.00
A monograph on one of South Africa’s most prominent artists.
Please click here to bid

Modern Makonde Art

Modern Makonde Art
Reserve: R160.00
A detailed introduction to five Makonde sculptors and their work. Dust jacket in good condition with a bit of water staining to top edge. Minor foxing to end papers only. A good tight clean copy with photographs by Jesper Kirknaes.
Please click here to bid

Pioneer Travellers in South Africa. A Geographical Commentary Upon Routes, Records, Observations and Opinions of Travellers at the Cape 1750 – 1800

Pioneer Travellers in South Africa
Reserve: R580.00
From the jacket flap “The golden age of travel in the Cape was the half-century covered by this book. This period saw great advances in the exploration of interior regions and expansion of knowledge of the physical and biological sciences. These achievements found expression in expedition reports, travel journals, books and maps, which comprise the subject matter treated in this volume."
Please click here to bid

Cecil Skotnes

Cecil Skotnes
Reserve: R350.00
This book is published privately in conjunction with the 1996 Cecil Skotnes Retrospective exhibition held at the South African National gallery.
Please click here to bid

Etienne Leroux’s first 10 books

Etienne Leroux’s first 10 books
Reserve: R2000.00
All first editions except for Die Mugu, vierde druk. Hilaria, Sewe Dae By Die Silbersteins, Een Vir Azazel, en Die Derde Oog all signed and inscribed , with a drawing by Leroux.Please click here to bid

SOME NEW STOCK

Please click here to see these books and other new stock.

 

he Book of Birds : Five Centuries of Bird Illustrations

The Book of Birds : Five Centuries of Bird Illustrations
Black-and-white and colour plates throughout. Clean copy. Boards show slight wear and moderate insect damage. DW in good condition other than slight wear, scuffing and small closed tear to top spine area.
ZAR 140

 

The Incredibles

The Incredibles
The story of the 1st Battalion, The Rhodesian Light Infantry. Minor foxing to fore-edge and a water stain on front end page. The outer cover is fairly scuffed, particularly on spine and edges.
ZAR 990

 

For Your Eyes Only

A musical instrument
(Mbira)
Obtained in the Otjiwarongo area from Bushmen, in the 1960’s. Made by Bushmen probably from the Tsumkwe area, in design it is a copy of a Kavango instrument. The red patina on the wooden body of the instrument is from the “putty” used to fix the metal cross member. The “putty” is a mixture of plant materials and the red colour is indicative of a northern origin, as different materials were used elsewhere, resulting in a light brown colour. Due to wear and patina it is possible to deduce that this was an item produced and used within the community and was not produced for the tourist trade.
ZAR 850

 

The Golden Age of Travel 1880-1939
Paperback copy in very good condition. Well illustrated history of luxury travel.
ZAR 280

 

Generaal Hendrik Schoeman Was Hy ‘n Verraaier?

Generaal Hendrik Schoeman Was Hy ‘n Verraaier?
Contains 22 black-and-white photographs. Pages slightly age toned. Boards show very little wear. Text clean and clear.
ZAR 850

 

Kaokoveld: The Last Wilderness

Kaokoveld: The Last Wilderness
Contains numerous full-colour photographs and black-and-white illustrations. Clean copy. Boards show slight edge wear. DW shows some wear and various closed tears.
ZAR 220

Please click here to see these books and other new stock.

 

LOCATIONS

QUAGGA
KALK BAY

George Curtis

86 Main Road
Kalk Bay
7975
South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)21 7882752
Fax: +27 (0)21 7883581
Mobile: +27 (0)82 4583795

email: george@quaggabooks.co.za

 

QUAGGA STELLENBOSCH
Simon Curtis

Shop 8
De Wet Centre
(Off Church Street)
Stellenbosch
7600
South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)21 8870113
Fax: +27 (0)21 8870113
Mobile: +27 (0)83 4630404

email: simon@quaggabooks.co.za

 

click here to go to: www.quaggabooks.co.za

follow us on:
facebook
twitter

 

SUBSCRIBE

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE
In order to receive this mail on a monthly basis please click here, fill in your details and click 'subscribe'. Details will obviously not be distributed. We will be bringing you news of new acquisitions and interesting anecdotes on bookdealing and collecting. So get the jump on other collectors and subscribe.

If you would like to read previous articles from our newsletter, please click here.

subscribe / unsubscribe