24 June 2009,
New York, Rockefeller Center
Price realised USD 8,750
Estimate USD 8,000 - USD 12,000
ACOSTA, Jose de. The Naturall and Morall Historie of the East and West Indies. Translated from Spanish into English by Edward Grimstone (attributed to). London: Val: Sims for Edward Blount and William Aspley, 1604.
Small 4o in half-sheets (174 x 132 mm). Woodcut initials, head- and tail-pieces. (Lacking first and last blanks, lower corners of title-page and preliminaries renewed, top edges closely trimmed occasionally affecting the headline, some occasional pale spotting.) Full tan calf gilt, top edges gilt, by Riviere (rebacked preserving original spine, extremities a bit scuffed). Provenance: Near contemporary incomplete presentation inscription to Robert Cecil (1563-1612), 1st Earl of Salisbury, Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth I and King James I; Henry H. Gibbs (signature recto of first blank dated St. Dunstan's, 1859, Aldenham House bookplate; his library catalogue 1888); R.I. Pummints(?) (signature recto of first blank).
"THE MOST CONVINCING, DETAILED, AND RELIABLE ACCOUNT OF THE RICHES AND NEW THINGS OF AMERICA" (Hill)
FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH. Inscribed on the verso of the title-page: "To the Right Honourable Sir Robert Cecill Knight Barron Essingden Vicount..." Lord Cecil is credited with successfully negotiating the 1604 peace treaty with Spain which brought an end to the Armada war that had begun in 1585: "The peace brought great benefits to English trade... most importantly, by its studied ambiguities and deliberate silence on the Spanish claim to a monopoly of the New World, the 1604 treaty tacitly allowed Englishmen to trade and settle in the West Indies and North America. Cecil's personal insistence on leaving these contentious matters aside made a vital contribution to the growth of that later Atlantic world of commerce and colonies which the Elizabethans had dreamed of but which became a reality only after 1604" (DNB).
"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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