London, South Kensington
23 November 2009
LEO AFRICANUS, Johannes (c.1494-c.1554?). De totius Africae descriptione, libri IX. Antwerp: Ioan. Latium, 1556. 8° (154 x 100mm). Woodcut device to title and initials. (Without the 2 blanks P7 & P8 at end, light browning and spotting, light dampstain affecting second half, progressively heavier towards end.) 18th-century drab boards, ms. paper spine label (extremities rubbed, light crease to upper board). Provenance: some light marginalia in a 17th-century hand (slightly cropped) -- B.V.T. (small unidentified 18th-century ink stamp to title).
RARE FIRST LATIN EDITION of this famous description of Africa. Born Al Hassan Ibn Mahommed Al Wezaz Al Fasi probably in Granada in about 1494, the author received a great part of his education at Fez, later travelling through most of northern Africa between 1507-1520. He undertook his most famous series of journeys across the Sahara into modern day Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad between 1513 and 1515. Later he travelled to Constantinople and Egypt, and while travelling home from there in 1520 was captured by pirates and presented to Pope Leo X in Rome. There he converted to Christianity, was baptized and adopted his Christian name. First published in Italian in 1526, this first Latin edition was the basis for the English translation of 1660. ONLY TWO COPIES OF THIS EDITION HAVE SOLD AT AUCTION SINCE 1975. Adams L-480; Howgego I A17
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