Description

    First French Edition of Pieter de Maree's "Description and Historical Account of the Gold Kingdom of Guinea"

    Pieter de Marees. Description et recit historial du riche royaume d'or de Gunea, aultrement nommé, la coste de l'or de Mina, gisante en certain endroict d'Africque... Pareillement ung brieff deduict du passaige que les navires prennent pour y naviguer, passant au travers des Isles de Canarie...le tout diligement & exactement descript par l'autheur qui par diverses fois y a esté. P.D.M. Amsterdam: Imprime chez Cornille Claesson..., 1605.

    First French edition of Pieter de Marees's "Description and Historical Account of the Gold Kingdom of Guinea" (first published in Dutch in 1602 as: Beschryvinge ende historische verhael van 't gout koninckrijck van Gunea, anders de Gout-custe de Mina genaemt, liggende in het deel van Africa). Folio (13.1875 x 9.125 inches; 336 x 232 mm.). [4], 12, 12-99, [8, vocabulary and table of contents] pages. Numerous errors in pagination. Signatures: A-O4. With twenty-two copperplate engravings, numbered 1-8, 9, 9, 10-17, 18 (in the text, unnumbered), 19, and 20 (twenty numbered half-page engravings, plus one duplicate, and one unnumbered quarter-page engraving). The engraving on the title-page is No. 7 (there is another issue with No. 19 on the title-page).

    Bound in modern antique-style marbled paper over boards with vellum spine. Spine lettered in ink. Leaf F2 is supplied, and is slightly shorter and browned, with dampstaining at the outer margin and with the lower blank corner renewed. Small hole in F3, affecting a few letters; wormtrack in the lower blank margin of leaves M1-M4, repaired on M4; paper repair in the lower margin of N1, affecting a few letters in the last three lines of text, and the catchword on the verso; paper repair to N2 in the upper and lower blank margins and the outer margin, not affecting any text, but affecting the outer edge of the engraving on the verso; a few additional leaves with marginal paper repairs, not affecting text or engravings. A few marginal paper flaws. A few ink stains visible on both the recto and verso of A4. Marginal dampstaining to C1 and O1-O4. Red smudge in the lower blank margin of N2 verso. A few tiny rust spots. Overall, still, this is an excellent copy, generally clean and crisp. With the bookplate of John Ralph Willis on the front pastedown.

    De Marees was the first Dutch author actually to visit the Ivory and Gold Coasts. His "Description and Historical Account of the Gold Kingdom of Guinea" provides the earliest substantial description of the Guinea coast, its people, and languages, and served as a major source for many later descriptions, including Olfert Dapper's famous 1668 compilation Naukeurige Beschryvinge der Afrikanensche Gewesten.

    "The work of De Marees, 1605, is exceptionally rare...[and] also contains the first description made by the Dutch of the coast of Guinea and is of great interest as showing how great, even then, was the importance of Dutch commerce in those regions" (Catalogue of the Library of Herschel V. Jones 186).

    De Marees's account formed one volume in the collection of five voyages published by Cornille Claesson, otherwise known as Cornelis Claeszoon, 1598-1610 (published both in French and Dutch). It was translated into German by Gotthardt Artus for the German edition of Part VI of De Bry's Petit Voyages, which appeared in 1603, and into Latin for the Latin edition of Part VI, which appeared in 1604. Samuel Purchas gave a shortened English translation ("translated out of Dutch, conferred also with the Latin edition") in his Pilgrimes II (1625), pages 926-970.

    Alden, European Americana, 605/73. Bibliotheca Americana 471. Gay 2867. JCB II, 33. Tiele 717. Tiele-Muller 135.


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