LLWYD, Humphrey

The breuiary of Britayne. Together with the geographicall description of the same.

London, By Richard Iohnes, 1573.


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. ff. [xxii], 96 leaves. A 2*² [par.] [par.]* B-N. Black, Italic and Roman letter. Title within typographical border, grotesque woodcut initials and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments, armorial bookplate of Albert Ehrman on pastedown, his library stamp with monogram A. E. on rear pastedown,  bookplate of Fox Pointe collection on rear f.ep. Very light age yellowing. A fine copy, crisp and clean with good margins, a few deckle edges, in handsome early 19th century vellum, covers bordered with a gilt scrolled rule, fleurons gilt to corners, central arabesque gilt, red morocco label gilt lettered on spine, very slightly soiled.

First English translation of a historical, linguistic and topographical tour of Britain, originally sent by the dying author to the famous geographer-mathematician Abraham Ortelius of Antwerp, that he might “Take therfore, this last remembrance of thy Humfrey, and for ever Adieu” (Llwyd’s dedication). The Latin text (Adams L 1378) was published in Cologne in 1572.

Llwyd (1527-1568), geographer, astrologer, antiquary and M.P. for Denbigh, was the private physician to Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl Arundel, a book-collector whose library, much of which is now in the British Library, contained not only many of Cranmer’s library-books but also arguably the finest geography collection of Elizabethan times, to whose assembly Llwyd lent his expertise, along with his friend John Leland. Llwyd also numbered amongst his friends Elisabeth I’s astrologer Dr. John Dee. His original Latin text was described by Lowndes (IV, 1377) as an “excellent work,’ much followed by Camden’ (Nicholson)”.

Twynne (1543-1613), physician, master of Canterbury free school, and another friend of Dee, made this translation with a full index. He includes a list of authors cited and, at the end, a list of ‘Certayne Welsh, or rather true British woordes, conuerted into Latin by the Author, & now translated into English’. “Llwyd] wrote the Commentarioli Britannicae descriptionis fragmentum, a short historical and geographical description of Britain which he dispatched to Ortelius on 3 August 1568; it was published in Cologne in 1572 and is dedicated to Ortelius. It was translated by Thomas Twyne under the title The Breviary of Britayne and published in 1573. It was the first attempt to compile a chorographia of Britain as a whole. Central themes of Llwyd’s work are his defence of Geoffrey of Monmouth (particularly countering the attacks of Polydore Vergil), and his belief in the integrity of the early British church.” DNB.

“For Humphrey Llwyd, writing in or before 1568, the Welsh are ‘the very true Britaynes by birth’, a nation which, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, could trace its descent back through Arthur to Britain’s founding father Brutus, grandson of the Trojan warrior, Aeneas. Llwyd writes that his welsh contemporaries had inherited the warlike spirit of their Trojan ancestors and were themselves ‘most valiant in warlike affayres’, a Welsh myth of origin that persisted into the seventeenth century and found echo even among writers, like Camden, otherwise sceptical Galfridian lore.” Stewart Mottram ‘Ruin and Reformation in Spenser, Shakespeare, and Marvell.’

A fine copy of this rare work from the library of Albert Ehrman, distinguished collector and generous benefactor whose collection was partly presented to the Cambridge University Library in 1978 and now forms the so-called “Broxbourne Collection” (after the village of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, where Ehrman lived); the rest of the library was sold at auction (Sotheby, Parke, Bernet & Co., 14 Nov. 1977-8). See `The Broxbourne Library’, BLR 10 (1979), 78-80. Nicolas Barker, `Albert Ehrman’, Book Collector, 19 (1970), 455-64; `News and comments’, Book Collector, 27 (1978), 83-7, 552-3; John Bidwell, `Albert Ehrman’, in Grolier 2000: A Further Grolier Club Biographical Retrospective in Celebration of the Millennium (New York, 2000), 84-7.

ESTC S108126. STC, 16636. Lowndes IV 1377.


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A geographical historie of Africa, written in Arabicke and Italian by Iohn Leo a More, … Translated and collected by Iohn Pory,.

London, [Printed by Eliot’s Court Press] impensis Georg. Bishop, 1600


FIRST EDITION thus. Folio, pp. [viii], 60; 420. [pi]⁴, a-e⁶, A-O⁶, Q-2N⁶. Double page engraved map. Roman letter some Italic. Woodcut printer’s device on title, historiated and floriated woodcut initials, typographical ornaments, “Liber Thomas Smith. pre. 5S-6D– Anno Salutis 1623” at head of second leaf. Title page and verso of last a little dusty, minor marginal soiling at edges of first few leaves, quires A and M a little shorter, rare marginal stain or spot. A very good copy, the map in good dark impression, in handsome contemporary calf, covers bordered with a triple blind rule, spine with blind hatched raised bands, blind ruled in compartments, well rebacked and laid down, holes for ties, a.e.r.

The important first edition in English, translated by John Pory, of this seminal classic of African topography and ethnography. Leo Africanus was an early C16 traveller who recorded in great detail the life of many remote North African kingdoms. He was born in Granada but in the 1490s his family moved to Fez in Morocco where Leo ultimately entered the service of the Sultan who sent him on commercial and diplomatic missions across northern and western Africa. In 1518 he was returning by sea from Istanbul and was captured, perhaps by Knights of Malta, who took him to Rome. There, under the patronage of Pope Leo IX he composed the present description of Africa, first published in Italian in 1550. It was a bestseller, put Leo at the centre of Roman intellectual life and remained one of Europe’s principal sources of knowledge of the Arab-African world for the next 400 years.

“It was translated into English in 1600 by John Pory. Pory’s letter ‘To the Reader’ tells the fascinating story of Leo’s life – a tale of complex interaction between Europe and Africa, Islam and Christianity. .. This book was important in that it was written by a Moorish man and well regarded by scholars. However Pory is aware that some readers at this time might distrust the writings of a ‘More’ and a ‘Mahumetan’ (or Muslim), and he reassures them of Leo’s sophistication: his ‘Parentage, Witte, Education, Learning, Emploiments, Travels, and his conversion to Christianitie’.” BL

It is very probable that Shakespeare was influenced by this work in his portrayal of Othello. “Pory’s account of Leo’s marvellous escape from ‘so manie thousands of imminent dangers’ might remind us of Othello’s tale of ‘hair-breadth escapes i’ th’ immanent deadly breach’. Like Leo, Othello tells of being ‘sold to slavery’ and we later learn that Othello was also a former Muslim, now baptised as a Christian. In his description of African people, Leo takes pains to give a balanced perspective, though it seems nonetheless stereotyped and prejudiced. Celebrating their ‘vertues’, he says Africans are ‘Most honest people … destitute of fraud and guile’. But ‘no nation in the world is so subject to jealousie’ (p. 40). In the unpleasant description of their ‘vices’, he says they are ‘very proud and high-minded, and woonderfully addicted unto wrath’. They are also ‘so credulous that they beleeve matters impossible which are told to them’ (p. 41) and promiscuous in wooing ‘divers maides’ before settling on a wife (pp.41–42). It is hard not see these qualities reflected in Shakespeare’s Othello, at least as Iago describes him. Exploiting the stereotypes that define the Moor in Venice, Iago talks of the ‘free and open nature’ that makes Othello think ‘men honest’ when they only ‘seem so’. He tells Roderigo he suspects ‘the lusty Moor’ of sleeping with Emilia, and plans to ‘put him into jealousy so strong’ that his anger will cloud his judgement.

Pory’s English translation (1600) was printed in the same year as the Moroccan ambassador’s visit to London to negotiate a military alliance between English and African forces, with the hope of conquering Spain. In his letter to Sir Robert Cecil, Elizabeth I’s secretary, Pory exploits this opportunity to market the book as particularly current, saying ‘At this time especially I thought [it] would proove the more acceptable’.” BL

A handsome copy of this rare and influential first English edition

ESTC S108481. STC 15481. Luborsky & Ingram. Engl. illustrated books, 1536-1603, 15481. Sabin, 40047.


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LLWYD, Humphrey. KROMER, Marcin.


Commentarioli Britannicae descriptionis fragmentum.

Cologne, Agrippinae : apud Ioannem Birckmannum, 1572.

Polonia siue De situ, populis, moribus, magistratibus, & republica regn/i Polonici libri duo.

Cologne,  apud Maternum Cholinum, 1578.


FIRST EDITIONS. Two works in one. 8vo. 1) ff. [viii], 79 [i.e. 78].[A-L8] last two leaves blank. 2) pp. [viii], 234 [i.e. 232]. 3 *, A-O, P.  Roman letter, some Italic. Small woodcut printer’s device on first t-p, floriated initial in the second. Light age yellowing some minor light browning and spotting in first volume, light water-stain at the end of second volume, second vol cut a little close in outer margin on a couple of leaves just touching a few sidenotes. Good copies in mid C17th speckled  English calf, covers bordered with a double blind ruled, blind hatched tool to corners, spine with raised bands, red morocco label gilt lettered.

Rare first edition of Llwyd’s geographical and historical description of Ancient Britain prefixed by his farewell letter to the cartographer Abraham Ortelius dated from Denbigh 30 August 1568, ending with a short Welsh vocabulary. An English translation by Thomas Twyne, ‘The Breuiary of Britayne,’ was published in the following year. “in August 1568, the Welsh scholar Humphrey Lloyd of Demby lay dying. Writing for the last time to his friend Abraham Ortelius in Antwerp, he reported that ‘a very perilous fever hath so torn this body of mine these ten continual days that I [have been] brought to despair of my life.’ Along with the letter Llwyd enclosed a pair of maps, one of Wales and one of England and Wales, destined for inclusion in Ortelius’s atlas. Llwyd further enclosed ‘certain fragments written with mine own hand which … (if God had spared me life) you should have received in better order,… These ‘fragments’ belonged to an unfinished topographical description of Britain, more than half of which was devoted to the history and description of Wales… Humphrey Llwyd was among the most gifted and provocative scholars of his generation. As MP for Denbigh he was instrumental in the passage of legislation for the translation of the Bible and Book of Common Prayer into the Welsh language. … Llwyd’s work left a lasting mark on the literatures of both England and Wales. It is unlikely that Camden’s great work would have taken quite the same form – or even borne the same title – without the prior example and influence of the Breviary” Philip Schwyzer ‘The breviary of Britain’. Introduction. “[Llwyd] wrote the Commentarioli Britannicae descriptionis fragmentum, a short historical and geographical description of Britain. .. It was the first attempt to compile a chorographia of Britain as a whole. Central themes of Llwyd’s work are his defence of Geoffrey of Monmouth (particularly countering the attacks of Polydore Vergil), and his belief in the integrity of the early British church.” DNB.

Llwyd’s important work is bound here with the first edition of another most interesting geographical work by Marcin Kromer on Poland. “Polish diplomat, bishop of of Warmia, historian, and polemicist on behalf of the counter Reformation. Was born in Biecz and served as secretary to Archbishop Piotr Gamrat … When working in the Royal Chancellery he ordered and listed the most important royal archives in Cracow.  .. Kromer was active in political and diplomatic life (numerous legations) He was one of the most important figures in the Polish Counter Reformation .. . His major work, intended for foreign readership is his history of Poland from legendary times to 1506 De Origine et rebus gestis Polonorum…. In addition to De origine, he contributed a geographical and political description of Poland: Polonia (1577).” D.R. Woolf ‘A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing.’ The work is full of interesting details on the politics of early Poland: “

1) Shaaber, L335. Libri Walliae no. 3313. 2) BM STC Ger. C16th. p.478


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CAMDEN, William.



London, [printed at Eliot’s court press] impensis Georg. Bishop, 1600.


4to, pp. [16], 831, [27], 30, [2], [2] pls. Predominantly Roman letter, little Gothic, Italic, Greek and Old Saxon; engraved elaborate frontispiece by W. Rogers, with central map of British Isles and Neptune and Ceres at sides, title with large woodcut arms of Queen Elizabeth as dedicatee, half-title ‘Hiberniae’ with large printer’s device, two folding engraved maps of England under Roman Empire and Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, several engraved illustrations in text, a few full- or double-page, floriated or historiated initials, typographical or grotesque head- and tail-pieces; a few central leaves lightly age browned, very occasional light marginal foxing, clean tear to outer lower corner of p.563. A fine copy in contemporary French red morocco, triple-fillet border, gilt-stamped armorial supralibros of Jacques-Auguste de Thou and his wife on covers, his monogram and title gilt on spine compartments, a. e. g.; minor repair to head and foot of spine and upper joint; on front pastedown, autograph and bibliographical note of Jean-Jacques de Bure (1765–1853), dated 10 October 1833, and bookplate of O. Vernon Watney; Pirie’s bookplate on front endpaper.

Exquisitely bound copy of the first comprehensive chorographical investigation of the British Isles, in the first edition with maps. Sir William Camden (1551-1623) was the most prominent antiquarian scholar of Elizabethan England. Educated at Oxford, Camden approached antiquarianism upon the encouragement of Philp Sidney and started a broad-ranging survey of the country which went on for nine years, eventually leading to the compilation of Britannia. The success of the work launched his career: Camden become headmaster of Westminster School, Officer of Arms and finally the official historiographer of Queen Elizabeth. Britannia is a county-by-county description of Great Britain and Ireland in relation to landscape, geography, antiquarianism and history. In addition the two folded maps at the beginning, the illustrations include antiquities, a series of Roman and ancient British coins as well as a view of Stonehenge (p. 219) and a map of Ireland. The final 30 pages addressing the reader contain Camden’s reply to Ralph Brooke (1553–1625), another Officer of Arms who had attacked the work in his A discoverie of certaine errours published in print in the much commended Britannia.

This beautiful copy comes from the library of a great collector, the French historian Jacques-Auguste de Thou (1553-1617). As typical of the many books forming his legendary collection, his arms are gilt on covers and his monogram is repeated over the spine. This binding was certainly made one or two years after the publication of the work, as de Thou’s arms and monogram are accompanied by those of his first wife, Marie Barbançon, died 1601 (Guigard, II, p. 452). In 1602, de Thou remarried and refashioned his binding style accordingly; bindings of this kind are far more common than those in the two earlier styles. In 1833, the book was collated by Jean-Jacques de Bure (1765–1853), scion of what was perhaps the most influential and learned dynasty of booksellers in France between the eighteenth and the early nineteenth-century. Jean-Jacques and his brother, Marie-Jacques, successfully took over their father’s business and sold some of the most significant collections of their times, including that of Mac-Carthy Reagh (1815).They offered for sale part of their own vast collection between 1835 and 1838, the rest being purchased by the Bibliothèque imperiale after Jean-Jacques’s death.

De Thou had only his most favourite volumes bound in this splendid red morocco and they constitute a small and highly prized part of his great collection.

ESTC S107386; CELM CmW 13.183 (record of this copy); Brunet, I, 1511 (mentioning this copy); Graesse, II, 24.


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POMODORO, Giovanni

La Geometria Prattica

Rome, Andrea Fei for Gio. Angelo Ruffinelli, 1624 [1623]


Folio, 58 unnumbered ll., A-M4 N6 O2. Roman letter, captions in Italic. Large engraved architectural t-p, Mars on the right, Victory allegory on the left, pediment with hanging grotesques and putti holding the Savelli arms, repeated on the right and left pedestal, motto ‘agor non obruor’ in between, large Aldine device on verso of last, 51 engraved plates, typographical and woodcut ornaments. Light age-yellowing, fly torn, couple of very sm. ink spots. A very good copy in contemp. limp vellum.

Second edition of this manual for surveyors, architects, geographers, cosmographers, bombardiers, engineers and captains on applied geometry and land surveying, completed by Giovanni Scala at the instance of the brother of Pomodoro after the latter’s death, and first published in Rome in 1599. Afraid of being charged with plagiarism, Scala made clear (cfr. his note at the end of the commentary on pl. VIII) which were his own additions, i.e. all the explanations and captions to Pomodoro’s plates, and seven new plates dealing with the measuring of the volume of parts of buildings such as columns, stairs and spires. Of Pomodoro’s plates, the first represents a selection of measuring instruments such as compasses and square rules; II-XXX explain the rules of the Euclidean geometry concerning triangles etc. (II-XXV), circular figures (XVI-XXIX), and solids (XXX); XXXI-XXXIX deal with the application of these rules to surveying (i.a. the measuring of the area of streets, rivers, moats, lakes, woods, and of the bases of trees and mountains) and XL with the measuring of corners in topography. The last three tackle the measurement of distances (pl. XXXXIII is reproduced in Mortimer). Giovanni Pomodoro was a mathematician of Venetian origin; nothing seems to be know of his life, and this is his only recorded work. Giovanni Scala, a military engineer of Friulan origin, lived in the second half of the C16th. The book is dedicated to Paolo Savelli, named ‘Principe di Albano’ in 1607 by pope Paul III. An interesting treatise made even more appealing by its illustrations, all finely engraved and rich in details and captions.

BM STC It. C17th p. 695. Graesse V p. 399. Riccardi I (2) 301. Honeyman 2513. Mortimer-Harvard It. 394n.


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