"VALUABLE DEPICTIONS OF 19TH-CENTURY SEAFARING LIFE": 1919 FIRST EDITION OF BARON RUNCIMAN'S DRAKE, NELSON AND NAPOLEON, HANDSOMELY BOUND
(NAPOLEON) RUNCIMAN, Walter. Drake, Nelson and Napoleon. London: T. Fisher Unwin, (1919). Octavo, modern full blue calf gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. $550.
First edition of this collection of essays tracing the evolution of naval life, strategy and combat from Drake through Nelson and his arch-rival Napoleon, handsomely bound by Monastery Hill of Chicago.
The first Baron Runciman, shipowner and life-long sailor and seaman, "was bound apprentice for six years in the brig Harperley, 450 tons, which sailed with coal from the Tyne to Mozambique. After a few voyages he broke his indentures and, tramping from Troon to the Tyne, joined the brig Maid of Athens. He later served in four other small sailing ships, attended a nautical school in 1867, and obtained a mate's certificate. After further sea service he gained a master mariner's certificate in 1871, and in 1873 was appointed master of the barque F.E. Althausse, holding this command until 1877. Runciman then transferred from sail to steam, becoming master of the steamer Coanwood… After over 25 years at sea Runciman, partly for reasons of health, began a new career as a shipowner at South Shields, Durham. His training in both sail and steam was valuable to him in the shipowning business… By 1895 the Moor Line, now based in Newcastle upon Tyne, owned 25 steamers, and by 1914 about 40… Runciman was an admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, collected books about him, and wrote two. He also wrote several books about sailing ships, as well as an autobiography, Before the Mast—and After (1924), which are valuable depictions of 19th-century seafaring life" (ODNB).