Leo Africanus

    John Leo [Leo Africanus or El Hasan ben Muhammed el-Wazzan-ez Zayyati]. A Geographical Histoire of Africa, Written in Arabicke and Italian by John Leo a More, borne in Granada, and brought up in Barbarie... Before which, out of the best ancient and moderne writers, is prefixed a generall description of Africa, and also a particular treatise of all maine lands and Isles undescribed by John Leo. And after the same is annexed a relation of the great Princes, and the manifold religions in that part of the world. Translated and collected by John Pory, lately of Goneuill and Caius College in Cambridge. London: Georg. Bishop., 1600.

    First edition. Quarto. [8], 420 pages. Woodcut initials. Lacking maps.

    Contemporary vellum over boards with titles stamped in gilt on dyed green spine labels. Marbled edges. Front board missing one-third of vellum at the lower edge and two small holes in the vellum at the top right. Rear board with a two-inch spit in the vellum at the lower leading edge. Boards generally warped causing some misshaping to the text block. Text block generally sound with some light toning and occasional scattered light foxing. Title page shows evidence of an old professional repair (top one-inch replaced). Rear endpaper with missing section but section remains and is laid in at back. Bookplate. A sound copy, worthy of professional restoration.

    El Hasan ben Muhammed el-Wazzan-ez-Zayyati (1485-1554) was born in the Moorish city of Granada but was expelled along with his parents and thousands of other Muslims by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain in 1492. Ultimately they settled in Morocco, and as a teenager he accompanied his uncle on diplomatic missions throughout North Africa and to the sub-Saharan kingdom of Ghana. He was captured by Christian pirates and presented as an educated slave to Pope Leo X who freed him and baptized him under the name "Johannis Leo de Medici" and commissioned him to write in Italian this detailed survey of Africa, a seminal work providing Europeans with their first glimpse of African peoples and customs. From the Professor John Ralph Willis Collection of Rare Africana.

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    Auction Dates
    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
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