5 April 2016
RODRIGUES, Joao (1561-1633) and Matteo RICCI (1552-1610). Litterae Japonicae anni M.DC.VI. Chinenses anni M.DC.VI. & M.DC.VII. Antwerp: Ex officina Plantiniana, by the widow and heirs of J. Mourentorff (Moretus), 1611.
12° (139 x 84 mm). Woodcut device on title-page and recto of final leaf, woodcut initials, head- and tail-pieces. (Some minor marginal soiling and pale dampstaining.) Contemporary red stained vellum, front cover letters stamped in black: “Wirven 1615” (hinges cracked, spine and covers worn); quarter morocco slipcase. Provenance: contemporary manuscript list of names (readers?) on front free endpaper; early ownership inscriptions on title: “Ex Libri Ecclesiae [...?]”; “P: Ludani [...?], 1692”; on rear paste-down: “Jesus Maria Ioseph.”
FIRST EDITION. The Missionary and author was born Alcochete in the Diocese of Lisbon in 1558, and “entered the Society of Jesus on 16 December, 1576, and in 1583 began his missionary labours in Japan. His work was facilitated by his winning the esteem of the Emperor Taicosama. He studied the Japanese language ardently, and is particularly known for his efforts to make it accessible to the Western nations. His Japanese grammar ranks among the important linguistic productions of the Jesuit missionaries” (Nicholas Weber. “Joao Rodriguez.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York, 2009). He died in Japan in 1633. VERY RARE: according to American Book Prices Current only one other copy has appeared at auction in at least the past forty years. Cordier Sinica II, 1645. Streit V: 1079.
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