9 December 2009,
New York, Rockefeller Center
Price realised USD 32,500
Estimate USD 20,000 - USD 30,000
ACOSTA, José de (ca 1539-1600). The Naturall and Morall Historie of the East and West Indies. Translated from Spanish into English by Edward Grimston (attributed to). London: Val: Sims for Edward Blount and William Aspley, 1604.
Small 4o (186 x 140 mm). With the very rare first leaf signed A and the blank leaf b4. Woodcut headpieces and initials. Contemporary English vellum with border of gilt and blind fillets, central gilt fleuron flanked by the original owner's initials "WL," gilt tooled flat spine, remains of ties. A fragment of a bifolium from a medieval English manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew in Latin (12/13th century) inserted in the back as binding strengthening (some light darkening); red morocco pull-off case. Provenance: William Lowndes ("W.L." binding and ink initials on first blank); Richard Lowndes ("Ri. Lowndes" 17th-century name on first back endpaper); C.F.J. Beausire (modern armorial bookplate).
"THE MOST CONVINCING, DETAILED, AND RELIABLE ACCOUNT OF THE RICHES AND NEW THINGS OF AMERICA" (Hill)
FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH. A SUPERB COPY. Acosta was a Jesuit missionary and naturalist in Peru from 1569 to 1585, after which he moved to Mexico. "Acosta's official duties obliged him to personally investigate a very extensive range of territory, providing him with a practical knowledge of the province, and its aboriginal inhabitants. While in Peru he was instrumental in the establishment of the first printing press, and in 1585 oversaw its first productions" (Hogwego). His Historia natural y moral de las Indias, first published in 1590, enlarged on his two earlier works and provided an encyclopedic analysis of the Amerindian world. Its popularity was immediate and immense, seeing the work translated into numerous languages. Alden & Landis 604/1; Arents Tobacco 67; Church 328; Hill p.3 ("His work opened the eyes of the rest of Europe to the great wealth that Spain was drawing from America. Eventually Spain grew more secretive in these matters"); Hogwego A7; JCB (3) II:24; Sabin 131; STC 94.
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