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    The First English Translation of Rochefort's History of the Caribbean Islands

    [Charles de Rochefort, anonymous author]. The History of the Caribby-Islands viz. Barbados, St. Christopher, St. Vincents, Martinico, Dominico, Barbouthos, Monserrat, Mevis, Antego, &c in all XXVIII. In Two Books. The First containing the Natural; The Second, the Moral History of those Islands. Illustrated with several pieces of Sculpture, representing the most considerable Rarities therein Described. With a Caribbian-Vocabulary. Rendered in to English by John Davies of Kidwelly. London: J. M. for Thomas Dring and John Starkey, 1666.

    First English translation of Rochefort's Histoire Naturelle et Morale des Iles Antilles de l'Amerique (1648). Quarto (11.25 x 6.75 inches). [viii], [367] pages. With nine full-page engravings of flora and fauna, and three fold-out maps, not called for by Sabin.

    Full contemporary calf. Rebacked and corners reinforced with modern light brown calf, covers ruled in gilt, spine ruled and tooled in gilt in compartments, with burgundy gilt morocco lettering label, new endpapers and blanks. Contemporary calf on covers somewhat worn, some rubbing to modern calf. Text age-toned, first four contemporary leaves reinforced at fore-edge, page 95 has small tape repair, one of the fold-out maps has extensive tape repairs to verso, dampstaining to pages 101, 111-114 and 243, pages 257, 263, 337, 343-346 and 351-[367] heavily browned. Previous owner's neat ink inscription (stating that the book was "Secured by exchange at the Public Library") dated 1896. Additionally, this book has the loose bookplate of Frederic Remington, and nearly identical offset to the first contemporary page, indicating the possibility this book came from his library. Overall, a good copy, with some uncalled-for maps.

    The purpose of the original edition was to encourage Huguenots to emigrate to the Caribbean. It has information of the flora, fauna and native peoples of the region -- including Eskimos (in a brief trip to Greenland).

    In the book's preface, Davies apologizes for the lack of maps, promising that later printings (assuming the first printing is successful) will correct this oversight: "if what is done at the present meet with the reception expected, the next Impression shall be furnished not only with the forementioned Map, but also some other Pieces of Ornament, whereof the last years distraction [here he refers to the Great London Fire], and want of time now have obstructed the insertion." Evidently, a later owner decided to correct this oversight in this copy. Rochefort is never given credit for the original work that most of the text of this edition is based upon.

    Although there was a rumor that much of the edition was destroyed in the Great London Fire, Sabin states that the "statement that nearly the whole or a large part of the edition was destroyed in the great fire of September, 1666, is also manifestly absurd."

    Sabin 72314, 72322. Wing R1740.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    7th-9th Thursday-Saturday
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