AN INTRODUCTION TO PERSIA AND ARABIA FOR EUROPEAN MERCHANTS
Persia seu Regni Persici status. Variaque itinera in atque per Persiam: cum aliquot iconibus incolarum
Arabia, seu Arabum vicinarumq[ue] gentium orientalium leges, ritus, sacri et profani mores, instituta et historia: accedunt praeterea varia per Arabiam itinera.
Amsterdam, ex officina Elzeviriana, 1633.
16mo. Two volumes in one. 1) FIRST EDITION. pp. 374, (x) last blank. Roman letter. Engraved title, signed CC Dufend, with a full length portrait of a Persian holding a cartouche with title, eight full page woodcuts, floriated woodcut initials and headpieces. 2) FIRST EDITION. pp. 297 (i.e. 287) (i). Roman Letter. Engraved title with a full length portrait of an Arab holding a cartouche with title, floriated woodcut initials. Light age yellowing with some minor light spotting in places. Very good copies in contemporary vellum over boards.
First editions of these two interesting works on Persia and Arabia, designed for investors interested in the opportunities afforded by the trade opening up in the New World and the East, especially clients of the relatively new Dutch West and East India companies. De Laet (best known for his History of the New World), was a founding director of the Dutch West India Company, and remained a director until his death. He dedicated the first work to the English antiquary William Boswell, having spent some time in London, to learn the trade of a merchant. He corresponded regularly with William Camden, Sir Henry Spelman, Sir Simonds D’Ewes and other English scholars.
His work is divided into two parts: the first gives a general description of the region, including eight charming and accurate full page woodcuts of Persians in costume, probably inspired by earlier works such as Nicolay’s on the Turks. The second part gives short and important accounts of various travels into the east, some taken from Ramusio, including the journeys of several Englishmen such as Cartwright, Joseph Salbank and Robert Covert, Richard Steele, and John Newberry. “Cet ouvrage, dit Boucher de la Richardie, est plus recherché pour les relations que J. de Laet a jointes à sa description de la Perse, que pour sa description même, qui est très-superficielle. Les écrits géographiques de Laet sont rédigés avec beaucoup de soin et d’exactitude; ils ont encore de intéret aujourd’hui, parce qu’ils servent à faire connaitre les changements survenus depuis dans divers pays de l’Europe.” Schwab.
The second work is an interesting compilation of descriptions of the habits and customs of Arabic countries, Islamic and Arabic history, topography and laws, including an account of the travels to Jerusalem and Syria by Johannes Cootwijk, and an appendix on the Muslim calendar. It includes the description of numerous Arab cities such as Baghdad, Bokhara, Damascus, Medina, Mecca, Aleppo, etc. and also contains Gabriel Sionita, “De nonnullis orientalium urbibus, nec non indigenarum religione ac moribus, tractatus brevis” (pp. 3-90), Christophe Richer, “De moribus atque institutis turcarum, arabum, aliarumque, quae Mahumedem sequuntur, gentium” (pp. 91-112), Johannis Cotovici, “Itinerario hierosolymitano et syriaco, de sacris, ritibus, moribus et institutis mahometaeorum” (pp. 113-228), Johann Ludwig Gottfried, “Excerpta ex Lodovici Godofredi archontologia cosmica” (pp. 229-242), “Arabiae topographia et alia, ex Adriani Romani theatro urbium” (pp. 243-257), and Wolfgang Drechsler, “Historia arabum” (pp. 258-297).
Printed by Janssonius in almost exactly the same style as the first, the second part was undoubtedly meant to complement it though, strangely, they are rarely found together. Very good copies of these two important first editions.
1) Willems 386. Rahir, Les Elzevier, 374.
2) Gay 3452.