Dixon Kemp’s book is one of those masterpieces you seldom come across. I wonder how many years it took him to get all that immaculate information together. Even in our computer age with software to produce plans and drawings I don’t think such a work could be produced in 5 years. In english I can’t even find a decent word for such a task, the french have a good word although I’m not convinced they work any harder than the limeys. ‘Oeuvre’ is their word and it describes much better the interminable task that Dixon accomplished to get that vast amount of information in such a neat bookform. Twenty years is my guess.

Click for larger version of Dixon Kemp's ManualThe first book is descriptive, well–written in concise language with many illustrations and I can’t even begin to tell you what’s inside these almost 800 pages printed on fine paper. I’ve had this book for about forty years and every time I open it (carefully) I seem to find something I hadn’t seen before. I had a good laugh this morning when I saw the price Dixon quoted for a 1000ton three-masted steamyacht. Yes that’s right, a one thousand ton steamyacht with bloody great masts and square-sails. We all know that our pounds, dollars, francs and guilders have gone for a shit over the last hundred years but in Dixon’s book you can see the proof thereof.

Click for larger version of Dixon Kemp's Manual page 387I’ll show you a picture of page 387, as neat a drawing of a fine looking craft as you’ll ever see, ‘La Resolue’ of 820 tons, probably built about 120 years ago. Electric light, hot water heating, refrigerating plant, distilling apparatus, staterooms, dressing rooms ensuite, steam windlass, electric sail hoisting winches, hollow spars, etc, etc. How much money did you need to buy such a dream in those benighted days?

Forty five thousand british pounds, my dear! Can you believe it ! And if you think you might be a bit cramped in such a vessel and you’d rather have something more substantial, ‘You Know !’, then you can order yourself a thousand tonner that’ll set you back a neat fifty thousand gold backed limey pounds!

While ol’ Dixon is about telling us about these motor yachts he also tells you with drawings how the internal combustion engine works. The fellow was a nautical genius and what he told us more than a hundred years ago is still very applicable today. In fact, any yachtskipper today, reading this book, will find seamanship tips that have been forgotten and his vessel will profit by their revival.

Just now I told you that I turn the pages carefully. I’m obliged to do so because both volumes are not in good nick. All is there, no horrible stains but the binding has had it in volume one and volume two with all the outfolding plates has become a bit loose also. These volumes need a good bookbinder and I have not been able to find one in this country. All the same my friends, if you want to buy this ‘Oeuvre’ by Master Dixon Kemp you’ll have to pay me R18 000.00.

Dixon Kemp’s Manual
ZAR 18.000.00 [includes packaging and postage]

More rare nautical books for sale :
Steel´s Elements of Mastmaking Sailmaking & Rigging
Sailing Ship Rigs & Rigging
Sail Training and Cadet Ships
The Merchant Schooners
Droit Maritime

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