Americae Nona & postrema Pars.

Frankfurt, Apud Matth. Beckerum, 1602.


FIRST EDITION thus. Folio. Five parts in one. pp. (viii), 362, (ii), last blank: pp. (ii) 56: ff. (i), XXV: pp. 100: ff. (i) XIV, (i), last blank. )(4, A-Z4, 2A-2X4, 2Y6, 2A-2G4, 2a-2e4, 2f6, 3A -3L4, 3M6, 3a-3d4. Roman letter, some Italic. First title within fine engraved architectural border, a Native American man and woman at sides, another above, flanked by penguins, a llama below, second title with engraving depicting Sebald de Weert’ flotilla, woodcut ornaments to third and fifth title, fourth title with engraved portrait of Van Noort, with world map, flanked by a Native American and a Pacific Islander, engraved arms on dedication leaf with the arms of Ludwig of Hesse, those of Christain II Duke of Saxony tipped in over, full page engraved map of Magellan Straits, thirty-nine half page engraved plates numbered IXXV and I-XIV with explanations, many hand-coloured, large foliated woodcut initials and headpieces, booksellers note tipped in on pastedown with book plate of John Jay Paul beneath. Light age yellowing, slightly heavier in places, the occasional minor marginal spot, blank corner of S3 expertly repaired. A very good, clean copy with excellent impression of the plates, in late C19th tan crushed morocco by W. Pratt, large gilt arabesques to covers, title gilt on spine, lower joint repaired, crack to top of upper joint, head and tail of spine and corners slightly chipped, all edges gilt.

First Latin edition of the ninth volume in the monumental collection of voyages, the ‘Grand Voyages’, by De Bry including the work of Acosta on America, and the highly important Pacific voyages of Oliver van Noort and Sebald de Weert, rarely found complete. De Bry died in 1598, however the publication of his hugely ambitious illustrated series of voyages was continued by his widow and two sons, who issued parts seven, eight, and this the ninth and “postrema pars”. The series was however continued to a total of thirteen parts, though part ten was not published until 1619. The ‘Grand Voyages’ was described by Boies Penrose as “the cornerstone of every library of Americana.”

The first work included in this ninth volume is the seven books of Acosta’s ‘Historia Natural y Moral De Las Indias’ (first published Seville, 1590), one of the most important works on the Indians of Mexico and Peru. Acosta’s was a Jesuit missionary who spent time in the missions of both countries from 1571 to 1588, and his ‘Historia Natural’ provided a most important and influential picture of the Spanish occupation of the New World. Acosta’s work “operated more strongly than any other in opening the eyes of the rest of Europe to the great wealth that Spain was draining from America.” Streeter. The Historia also described Inca and Aztec customs and history, and gives much information on such things as winds and tides, lakes, rivers, plants, animals, and mineral resources in the New World. “By the end of the century Spanish knowledge of America had been brilliantly summarized by Jose de Acosta, sometimes know as the American Pliny. Although Acosta’s ‘Historia Natural y Moral De Las Indias’ has been recognized as the most useful and the most learned of the early commentaries, one cannot say that its truly central place in American cultural history has been widely appreciated” Theodore Hornberger. The fourteen De Bry engravings which relate to this section show in great and vivid detail the customs of the Aztecs and Incas and their often violent confrontation with the Spaniards and includes engravings of Indians working Potosi mines, Aztec religious ceremonies, games, llamas as beasts of burden, human sacrifice and burial rites. They are some of the most extraordinary early anthropological illustrations of Native Americans and their customs.

Another of the voyages in this volume recounts the extraordinary circumnavigation made by Van Noort, the first by a Dutchman, and the fourth recorded circumnavigation. Lach describes the van Noort account as containing “the earliest first-hand Dutch descriptions of the Ladrones (Marianas), the Philippines, and Borneo.” “Van Noort describes the Ladrones very much as did the earlier Spanish writers: the people are superb swimmers, incorrigible thieves, live without law, hold women in common, and subsist on bananas, coconuts, sweet potatoes and sugar cane, which they gladly trade for pieces of old iron. The Dutch writer reports on the visible damage suffered by many of the islanders from the Spanish pox (syphilis) (…) the Dutch were impressed and somewhat bewildered by the vast number of Philippine islands. To thread their way from the San Bernadino Straits to Manila they seized both native canoes and a Chinese junk to obtain pilots. They notice the usually naked and tattooed natives, the houses on stilts, and the many boats and ships which bring what is called tribute from the outlying islands to the Spanish at Manila. From a captured Chinese pilot they learned much about Manila’s size and fortification and about its large Chinese settlement. Luzon is thought to be larger than Scotland and England combined.” Lach. This description of his voyage was one of the first publications to inform Europe that the Spanish monopoly of the Pacific was being challenged by the Dutch, and includes an illustration showing the battle of Manila.

Van Noort journeyed to the Moluccas via the Straits of Magellan, entering them in September of 1599 but, due to terrible conditions did not reach the Pacific until the end of the following February. Continuing along the coast of Chile, he stopped at Peru, New Spain, and eventually reached the Mariana Islands, Manila, Borneo and Java. The voyage was first published in Dutch in 1601 followed by a corrected edition of 1602. As the first Latin edition, this account in the de Bry was the first to be widely disseminated in Europe. The third voyage in this volume is that of Sebald de Weert’s with the much same objectives as the van Noort voyage. On June 20, 1598, De Weert sailed from Amsterdam with a fleet including the ships Hoop, Liefde, Geloof, Trouwe, Blijde Boodschap, under the command of Admiral Jacques Mahu, sent to the Moluccas by way of the Straits of Magellan. The voyage met with disaster and de Weert’s ship was the only one to return. (The Liefde eventually made it to Japan with their English pilot, a certain Will Adams, and only 24 remaining crew).

It was on his homeward leg back to the Netherlands after having failed to pass the Straits of Magellan that De Weert noticed some unnamed and uncharted islands. There he attempted to stop and replenish but was unable to land due to harsh conditions. These islands Sebald de Weert charted were a small group off the northwest coast of the Falkland Islands, part of the Falklands which he named the “Sebald de Weert Islands” and the Falklands as a whole were known as the Sebald Islands until well into the 18th century. Fourteen of the engraved plates illustrate De Weerts voyage, depicting the ports visited, including Rio de Janeiro and San Sebastian, as well the natives met along the route through the Straits and other memorable incidents from the voyage. The 39 engravings and the map of the Straits of Magellan contained in this ninth volume by De Bry are amongst the most important of American anthropological illustration. 

Alden 602/1, 602/72, 602/91. Sabin III pp 42-3. “The great and Small Voyages of the De Bry family constitute two of the most important collections of voyages.” JFBB 588 (the German edn.). BM STC Ger. C17th I, B2353. Church 168. Griffin, Bibliography of the Philippines, p. 24.


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