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    First German Edition of Olfert Dapper's "Description of Africa," One of the Earliest Monographs on Africa

    Olfert Dapper. Umbständliche und Eigentliche Beschreibung von Africa, und denen darzu gehörigen Königreichen und Landschaften, als Egypten, Barbarien, Libyen, Biledulgerid, dem Lande der Negros, Guinea, Ethiopien, Abyssina, und den Africanischen Insulen: zusamt deren Verscheidenen Nahmen, Grentzen, Städten, Flüssen, Gewächsen, Thieren, Sitten, Trachten, Sprachen, Reichthum, Gottesdienst, und Regierung. Wobey die Land-Carten, und Abrisse der Städte, Trachten, &c. in Kupfer. aus unterschiedlichen neuen Land-und Reisebeschreibungen mit fleiss zusammen gebracht...[Together with:] Eigentliche Beschreibung der Insulen in Afrika: als da seynd Madagaskar, o[der?] die Lorenz-Insel, die Thomas-Insel, die Kanarischen-Inseln, die Inseln des Grühnen Vorgebürges, Malta, und andere...Amsterdam: Bey Jacob von Meurs, 1670-1671.

    First edition in German of Olfert Dapper's "Description of Africa" (first published in Dutch in Amsterdam in 1668 as Naukeurige beschryvinge der Africaenische gewesten Egypten, Barbaryen, and Naukeurige beschrijvinge der Africaenische eylanden). Two parts in one folio volume (12.3125 x 7.9375 inches; 313 x 201 mm.). [6], 376, 379-695, [13, index and directions to the binder] (numbers 377 and 378 omitted in pagination); [2], 102 [i.e., 101], [3, index and directions to the binder] pages. With fifty-six half-page copperplate engravings in the text. This copy is lacking the added engraved title, the thirteen folding or double-page engraved maps, and the thirty folding engraved plates. Title-page to Part I printed in red and black. Text in double columns. Decorative woodcut initials and tail-pieces.

    Seventeenth-century blindstamped pigskin over beveled wooden boards (dated "Anno 1693" on the front cover). With the original metal clasps and pins (pigskin strap renewed on the top clasp). Covers additionally stamped in black with corner ornaments and central arms of "Franciscus Honorius Comes de Trautmansdorf" (Count Franz von Trauttmansdorff). Spine with eight raised bands additionally stamped and lettered in black. Remains of a label in the bottom compartment. Marbled endpapers. Spine ends worn; minor worming to the rear board; small stain on the top edge. Paper repair to the outer edge of P1 (pages 113/114); paper flaw to the lower corner of X1-Y2 (pages 161-170), and to the lower corner of Gg3-Gg4 (pages 237-240); five-inch clean tear into the text of Yy3 (pages 357/358). Ink stain to the fore-edge from Iii1 to the end of Part II. A few scattered rust spots, occasionally touching a letter or two. A few leaves loose where the plates have been removed. Generally, a clean and crisp copy. With the armorial bookplate of Count Franz von Trauttmansdorff on the front pastedown and bookplate of African scholar John Ralph Willis on the front free endpaper.

    Dapper (1639-1689) was a Dutch physician and scholar devoted to historical and geographical studies. He produced several finely illustrated volumes describing travels in Africa, Asia, Asia Minor, the Middle East, drawing upon the most reliable eye-witness accounts as well as his own library of travel books. His works were authoritative and very popular, and especially noteworthy for their excellent illustrations and maps.

    Dapper's Description of Africa "covers the entire continent - the Islamic north, from Morocco to Egypt, Abyssinia, central and southern Africa, and Madagascar, Malta, the Canaries and other islands of the African coast" (Alastair Hamilton, Europe and the Arab World, page 26). Although he had never visited Africa, Dapper's book is still of considerable value, because he made use not only of published sources (especially De Marees), but also of manuscripts which have now been lost. His work became well-known, and is still a key text for Africanists. It was translated into English by John Ogilby and published in 1670. From the Professor John Ralph Willis Collection of Rare Africana.

    Cox I, page 361. Gay 219. Paulitschke 190. Tiele 71. Ibrahim-Hilmy I, 155. Mendelssohn I, 414 ("An important early work on Africa in general").

    More Information:

    "An English translation of Dapper was issued in 1669-70 by the well-known compiler and publisher, John Ogilby. Since Dapper's name does not appear on the title page, while Ogilby's does, the version is often known as 'Ogilby's Africa.' In his Preface, Ogilby claimed that he had begun to collect material on Africa before encountering Dapper's work, and that his book consisted of this originally-collected material, together with 'large additions' from Dapper. The section on Sierra Leone and Cape Mount (pp. 368-412) is wholly and merely a translation of Dapper. The English text is an almost complete translation of the Dutch and only a little less complete than the German version. Usually the English follows the Dutch paragraph by paragraph and sentence by sentence, but a few single sentence paragraphs are omitted, and a score or so of other sentences are cut, wholly or partly, with the result that some information is lost...The translation attempts a more literary style than the crabbed Dutch original and is not above occasional colorful paraphrasing. By the standards of the time, the translation is on the whole a reasonable one; nevertheless, it should be used mainly as a guide to the Dutch or German texts, and references to it should only be made if the relevant passage has been checked against the Dutch original" (P. E. H. Hair, "Barbot, Dapper, Davity: A Critique of Sources on Sierra Leone and Cape Mount," History in Africa, Vol. 1 (1974), pages 26-27).

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