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The first world atlas published in German, bound with Acosta's seminal work on Latin America

Geographisch Handtbuch... [bound with] America oder wie mans zu teutsch nennet die Neuwe Welt...
QUAD, Matthais and ACOSTA, Joseph de
Publication place
Cologne [and] Oberursel,
Publication date
1600 [and] 1605.
  • Description

    Two works bound in one volume. Quarto (280 by 180mm). Gothic type, title, list of maps, dedication, 82 double-page engraved maps, with text to verso, [bound with], title with woodcut printer's device, 20 fine full-sheet engraved maps (text on versos), P2v with two small marginal woodcut diagrams, decorative woodcut initials and headpieces, text evenly age-toned, contemporary German blind stamped pig skin, with coat-of-arms of the Dukes of Wurttemberg, corners bumped.

  • Notes

    A fine example of Matthias Quad's geographical work here bound with the rare first complete German edition of Joseph de Acosta's classic study of the New World.

    Matthias Quad's 'Geographisch Handtbuch...', published in 1600, is the first world atlas published in German. It was largely an expansion of his earlier 'Europae totius orbis terrarum' of 1592. The most prominent additions are the five maps covering the New World, which Quad based on the works of de Jode, Mercator, and Ortelius. The map of the Straits of Magellan is taken from Wytfliet's 'Descriptionis Ptolemaicae augmentum' of 1597.

    Acosta's work was first published in 1590 in Seville as 'Historia natural y moral de las Indias', and has long been recognized as the first intellectually rigorous survey of Latin America. The text covers geography, metallurgy, natural history, and the laws, customs and history of the Inca and Aztec peoples, all based on Acosta's personal observation during nearly two decades in Peru and Mexico. Acosta "provided great detail in his descriptions of sailing directions, mineral wealth, trading commodities, Indian history, etc. Consequently his work operated more strongly than any other in opening the eyes of the rest of Europe to the great wealth that Spain was drawing from America" (Thomas Streeter on the 1604 English translation; his sale 1:32). The Jesuit missionary's treatise also includes significant biographical details about Cortes and Pizarro.

    Acosta's text is here augmented by Johannes Matalius Metellus's re-engravings of the eighteen New World maps from 'Wytfliet's Descriptionis Ptolemaicae augmentum'. These were first published in Cologne in 1598 in 'Geographische und historische Beschreibung der uberauss grossen Landschafft America', an unattributed translation of 'Acosta's De natura Novi Orbis' (Salamanca, 1588); Burden notes that "all issues [of Metellus's maps] are extremely rare." The two maps not taken from Wytfliet are the world after Lambert Andreas and the Pacific Ocean, which is "derived from the Abraham Ortelius Maris Pacifici of 1589 and is only the second printed map devoted to the Pacific" (Burden).

    The Metellus-Wytfliet maps are undoubtedly an integral part of this 1605 edition. Some doubt on this point was introduced because the JCB copy lacks the maps, and Eames, when cataloguing a New York Public copy, suggested that because of their absence in the Brown copy, the maps in the NYPL copy had been supplied from the 1598 'Geographische und historische Beschreibung'. However the copies of the 1605 Oberursel Acosta at the Newberry Library, the University of Illinois, the Rare Book Division of the New York Public Library, and the Berlin Staatsbibliothek all contain the maps.

    The last appearance of the two works bound together occurred at Sotheby's on June 24th, 1968, also bound in German pigskin, and made $2,040.

  • Bibliography

    Paul Baginsky, German Works relating to America 1492-1800 (New York, 1942) 124; J.C. Brown II, p.29; Burden 115-122; Jose Toribio Medina, Biblioteca Hispano-America (Santiago de Chile, 1898-1907) A330; Peter H. Meurer, Atlantes Colonienses (Bad Neustadt: Pfaehler, 1988) ACO2; Palau 1995n; Sabin 130; Shirley, World 190; Celebrated Collection Of Americana Formed By The Late Thomas Winthrop Streeter, (New York: Parke-Bernet Galleries, 1966).