A Residence of Eleven Years in New Holland and the Caroline Islands: Being the Adventures of James F. O’Connell. Edited from his Verbal Narration.

Boston: Published by B. B. Mussey, 1841. Second edition. 12mo, original sheep, black leather label, gilt lettering, 265 pages. Frontis, one woodcut plate. Joints cracked, but holding; spine and board edges rubbed, with about a half-inch chip from the foot of the spine and traces of an old shelfmark label to the spine; some foxing and small tears; a good, sound copy. Item #18815

“One of my women produced a calabash of black liquid; another took my left hand, squeezing it in hers so as to draw the flesh tight across the back. Then a little sliver of bamboo was dipped in the liquid and applied to my hand, upon which it left a straight black mark. The third beauty then produced a small flat piece of wood with thorns pierced through one end. This she dipped in the black liquid, then rested the points of the thorns upon the mark on my hand, and with a sudden blow from a stick drove the thorns into my flesh. One needs must when the devil drives; so I summoned all my fortitude, set my teeth, and bore it like a martyr. Between every blow my beauty dipped her thorns in ink. . . . It is unnecessary to go into the details; eight days were occupied in the process upon different parts of my body. My legs, back, and abdomen, were marked also, and to enable them to operate I was compelled to lay extended upon a mat. The hair upon my body was twitched out with seashells—a process which was performed as expeditiously upon my person as the same ground can be cleared of pin-feathers on geese by a dexterous cook. I often thought I should die of these apparently petty, but really acutely painful inflictions.” The well-known narrative of an Irish boy from London who shipped at age eleven to Port Jackson, New South Wales, then lived among the natives in the Caroline Islands; he married and had children on the island of Pohnpei, where he underwent ceremonial tattooing. O’Connell became the first tattooed man to exhibit himself in America, becoming a feature at Barnum’s American Museum in 1842; a version of his life story was published in New York in 1845 under the title The life and adventures of James F. O’Connell, the tattooed man (New York, 1845). This copy with a contemporary school district library bookplate (doubling as a Phinney advertisement) on both the front and the rear pastedown, with a somewhat later private bookplate mounted over the front bookplate.

Price: $375.00