23 April 2001
CARVAJAL, Bernardinus (1455/56-1523). Oratio ad Alexandrum VI nomine Ferdinandi et Isabellae. [Rome: Stephan Plannck, after 19 June 1493].
Chancery 4o (197 x 135 mm). Collation: a8. 28 lines, printed shoulder notes. Type: 10:108R. One woodcut floral initial. Previously part of a Sammelband, with leaves foliated 53-60 in an early hand. Paper: bird watermark, similar to Briquet Oiseau 12150, Rome: 1491-93. (Some light marginal spotting, small marginal paper flaw in a2.) 20th-century blue crushed morocco gilt by Sangorski and Sutcliffe.
Provenance: early annotations and underlining on first leaf -- [Swann Galleries, 26 October 1972, lot 137]
A rare incunabulum of European Americana: Carvajal's oration contains ONE OF THE EARLIEST REFERENCES TO THE NEW WORLD. Columbus returned from his important first voyage in March 1493, and wrote an official account of his discoveries in the form of a letter addressed to his patrons, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. This account was immediately sent on to Rome, where Stephan Plannck printed the first edition outside Spain in April. Carvajal's reference to the new discoveries in his oration of obedience to Pope Alexander VI, delivered on 19 June 1493, reinforces Spain's claim to these lands and conveys the contemporary excitement and wonder over the discovery: "[Christ] has lately disclosed some other unknown ones [islands] towards the Indies which may be considered among the most precious things on earth; and it is believed that they will be gained over to Christ by the emissaries of the King."
GW records only 21 copies of this work (ISTC adds two further copies to this count); no copy has appeared at auction since the present copy was sold in 1972. H 4545; BMC IV, 98 (IA. 18563); BSB-Ink C-163; GW 6145; IGI 2532; Alden & Landis 493/2; Church 3; Harrisse BAV, 11; Sabin 11175; Goff C-221.
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