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    Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas. Historia General de los hechos de los castellanos en las Islas i tierra firme del mar oceano...Decada Terzera [and] Decada Quarta. [Bound with his:] Descripcion de las Indias Ocidentales. Madrid: En la emplenta Real, 1601 [(colophon) Madrid: Jose Flamenco, 1601]. First edition. Third (the years 1520-1526) and Fourth (the years 1527-1531) Decades only (of an eventual eight), bound with the Descripcion, as usual. Folio (10.875 x 7.5 inches; 276 x 191 mm.). [2, engraved pictorial title (verso blank)], [2, "Lo mas notable que se contiene en esta tercera Decada" (verso blank)], 377, [1, colophon], [16, "Tabla de las cosas mas notables contenidas en esta tercera Decada"]; [2, engraved pictorial title (verso blank)], [2, "Sumario de los mas notable que en esta quarta Decada se contiene" (verso blank)], 258, 261-293, [1, blank], [14, "Tabla de la quarta Decada"]; [2, engraved pictorial title (verso blank)], [2, "Al licenciado Paulo de Laguna Presidente del real y supremo Consejo de las Indias"], 96 pages. Signatures: Π2 a-z8 aa6 (-aa6, blank) §§8; Π2 Aa-Rr8 Ss10 §8 (-§8, blank); Π2 A-F8. Each part with engraved pictorial title; the Descripcion with thirteen (of fourteen) folding engraved maps. Late twentieth-century antique-style slightly mottled polished calf by the Baker Bindery, Auburn, Alabama (invoice laid in). Covers decoratively panelled in gilt consisting of an outer border of five gilt rules, enclosing a central panel (made up of a tool made from an impression of a tool designed by Bernard C. Middleton) between two sets of triple gilt rules; spine in six compartments with five raised bands, lettered in gilt in the second compartment, the remaining compartments with the same gilt center tool within double gilt rules. Binding a little tight, sometimes making side notes difficult to read; closely cropped at top edge, occasionally affecting headline. Occasional foxing and browning. A very nice copy, generally clean and quite crisp, in a handsome binding. Full condition report online.

    Borba de Moraes I, pp. 399-400 ("Herrera had access to the official Spanish archives, which accounts for the great importance of his work. It became a classical study very early. The first edition is rare and much sought after"); Burden, The Mapping of North America, 140-142 ("Considering the dearth of Spanish publications on the New World, particularly cartographic, it is noteworthy that this book had official backing. It details the early exploration of the New World by the Spanish and assembles many documents lost to us today"); Martin & Martin, pp. 18, 77, and Plate 7; Medina, Biblioteca Hispano-Americana, 455; Palau 114286; Sabin 31544 and 31539; Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast, pp. 66-67, 93, and No. 226; Wagner, Spanish Southwest, 12 ("The maps and engraved title are said to have been engraved by Juan Peyron").

    More Information:

    Third Decade bound without blank leaf aa6; Fourth Decade bound without final blank leaf ([section symbol]8). Third Decada with pages 37, 259, 291, 297, and 299 incorrectly numbered 27, 261, 391, 397, and 399, respectively; Fourth Decade with pages 65, 66, 83 incorrectly numbered 75, 76, 79, and numbers 259 and 260 omitted in pagination; the Descripcion with pages 82, 83, and 92 incorrectly numbered 84, 85, and 52, respectively. Text in double columns, with printed side notes. Decorative and historiated woodcut initials, decorative woodcut tail-pieces. Watermark in both text and maps: cross in an oval shield, with various letters beneath the shield.


    In the Descripcion, Maps 1-4 bound before the engraved title, Maps 5-13 bound at end. The maps are titled: 1. "Descripcion de las Yndias Ocidentalis;" 2. "Descripcion de las Yndias del Norte;" 3. "Description [sic] del Destricto del Audiencia de la Española;" 4. "Description [sic] del Destricto del Audiencia de Nueva España;" 5. "Descripcion del Destricto del Audiencia de la Nueva Galicia;" 6. "De[s]cripcion del Audiencia de Guatimala;" 7. "Descripcion de las Yndias de Mediodia;" 8. "Descripcion del Audiencia de Panama;" 9. "Descripcion del Audiencia del Nuevo Reino;" 10. "Descripcion del Audiencia del Quito;" 11. "Descripcion del Destrieto [sic] del Audiencia de Lima;" 12. "Descripcion del Audiencia de los Charcas;" and 13. "Descripcion de la Provincia de Chile." Bound without Map 14: "Descripcion de las Indias del Poniente."


    Third Decade engraved title and following few leaves foxed and a little worn around the edges, with small stain at upper edge near the gutter through b2 (pages 19/20), strengthened on the verso of the engraved title and following two leaves; small stain at lower edge near gutter throughout, strengthened with tissue on the verso of the engraved title. Lower corner (approximately 2.75 x 1.75 inches) of y4 (pages 343/344) renewed, with loss of several words in seven lines, and small portion of historiated initial on verso; lower corner (approximately 3.25 x 2 inches) of y5 (pages 345/346) renewed, repairing curved tear and a few small holes, affecting a few letters in nine lines, and side notes on recto and verso, with loss of only a letter or two on verso; small piece cut from lower blank corner of y8 (pages 351/352); one-and-one-quarter-inch tear (paper flaw) in the text on aa1 (pages 369/370), affecting a few letters and the page number; a few small stains in the text on e3 (pages 69/70), visible on e2 and e4 (pages 67/68 and 71/72), as well.


    Fourth Decade engraved title with minor foxing, and early ink squiggle on the verso, faintly visible on recto; leaf Nn5 (pages 201/202) with diagonal crease before printing, affecting a few letters, the crease impression visible on Nn1-Oo8 (pages 193-224); tiny tear (paper flaw) upper corner of Gg2 (pages 99/100); small hole (paper flaw) in the text on Gg6 (pages 107/108), affecting a few letters in one line on both recto and verso; Dd8-Ee2 (pages 63/64-67/68) with small square area of browning in the gutter and in the upper margin, from something once laid in.


    The Descripcion engraved title with dark spot (paper flaw) at lower edge of plate mark; light creasing or chipping to lower edge at gutter throughout; leaf D4 (pages 55/56) with one-and-three-quarter-inch tear from top edge into text; ink staining on F8 recto (page 95), mostly in inner margin, but giving the appearance of something having been obliterated). Most maps with some browning, especially near the fold, and one or two tiny pinholes at or near the fold; Map 1 creased at outer edge and with a few diagonal creases across the map; lower corner of Map 2 folded up; Map 8 creased at top edge at fold, and with small hole at top edge near fold; Map 11 creased at top edge at fold and with small hole in the map (not affecting anything); Map 12 with stain at top gutter edge; Map 13 with browning near fold, and tiny chips at lower edge of plate. A few additional small spots or stains, and a few additional minor paper imperfections.


    Colophon on page [378] of Third Decade; page 293 of Fourth Decade; and page 96 of the Descripcion: "En Madrid, / Pour Juan Flamenco. / [Año] M. DCI. [1601]."


    "Los presidentes, consegeros, secretarios, y fiscales que hasta el dia presente han servido, y sirven en el Real y supremo Consejo de las Indias, desde su primero descubrimiento" on pages 93-96 of the Descripcion.


    Laid in is the Typed Invoice, dated 1/12/99, from Baker Bindery, 309 Brookside Drive, Auburn, Alabama 36830, to Dr. Bradford Y. Fletcher, 539 Ridgecrest Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30307, with a description of the work done: "Historia General de las Indias: book came to the bindery in late 18th century/early 19th century 3/4 calfskin binding and badly trimmed. The tome had been resewn on 4 buried cords et cetera. Spine cleaned, five German linen cords sewn on (using Douglas Cockerell/Bernard Middleton method), every fourth signature, and new slips made. English Griffin Mill Warm White endhsheets [sic] reinforced around the fold with Irish linen and sewn onto tome with linen thread. Headbands sewn around German linen cord with French red and white silk. Boards laced onto book using all five slips. British calfskin (archival grade - partial chrome tannage 4%) pared, stained and drawn over book. Book tooled with 23.5 kt. gold leaf in a fashion advised by Mr. Bernard C. Middleton, F.S.A. of London, England. Gold dirtied to give appearance of contemporary binding (likewise lettering skewed, see Middleton's Restoration of Leather Bindings)."


    Also laid in is a faxed copy of a Typed Letter Signed to Mr. Baker from Bernard C. Middleton, Book Restorer, 3 Gauden Road Clapham London SW4 6LR, dated "Aug. 21, 1998": "Many thanks for your fax and for your kind remarks. Am very happy to comply with your request. I had the tool cut a good few years ago, probably by Fine Cut Precision. I have used it mostly on early Italian books. I can send a clear impression to P. & S. if that would be an advantage. All good wishes."


    First published in English in London, 1725-1726, with title: The General History of the Vast Continent and Islands of America, Commonly Call'd The West-Indies, from the First Discovery thereof: With the Best Accounts the People Could Give of Their Antiquities. Collected from the Original Relations Sent to the Kings of Spain.



    1. "Descripcion de las Yndias Ocidentalis." Within a cartouche at lower center: "Entre los dos Meridianos Señala dos Se contiene la navegacion y descubrimeinto [sic] que compete a los Castellanos." Plate mark: 22.8 x 32.6 cm. To precede p. [3]. North and South America, with parts of Asia, the Philippines, Europe (Portugal and Canary Islands), etc. Clearly set out is the Line of Demarcation, dividing the lands between the Spanish and Portuguese as established in the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), but the map is configured to give the disputed territory to Spain. Few topographical details are shown, and the northwest part of North America is almost blank. California is named and shown attached to North America. This map and others in this work were expanded by Herrera from the manuscript maps of Juan López de Velasco (d. 1596) ordered by Phillip II. The challenge that faced López de Velasco was to make a map of the New World without ever seeing it and while an ocean away in Spain. To him and other sixteenth-century Europeans, the New World was the missing part of their cosmos, or world order. Burden, The Mapping of North America, 140 (includes list of subsequent editions): "One of the very few Spanish printed maps of America...The map has no text on the reverse, and the copperplate was not used again. It is scarce." Wagner, The Cartography of the Northwest Coast, pp. 66-67, 93 and No. 226. Martin & Martin, p. 77: "The dearth of information on [his maps of America] reflects not only the official Spanish position concerning the information it wished disseminated, but also Spanish priorities in exploration and the consequent lack of interior investigations. Interestingly, for the period in which the maps were drawn, the general outlines were essentially correct."


    2. "Descripcion de las Yndias del Norte." Plate mark: 21 x 28.4 cm. To follow p. 6. Map of North America, including Central America, the northernmost part of South America, and the Caribbean. Among the few locations are Florida (in quite a different conformation than in preceding map), Yucatan, audiencias of New Galicia, New Spain, Guatemala, and Española. Burden, The Mapping of North America, 141 (as in Map 1, no text on verso, plate not used again, derived from the manuscript charts of Juan López de Velasco). Martin & Martin, p. 18: "The only printed Spanish map of this period [appeared in] Herrera's...official history of the Indies [and it] is typical of the official Spanish secrecy concerning their domains; it reveals almost no information on the interior"; p. 77: "For the period in which the maps were drawn, the general outlines were essentially correct...Although adding little to the composite of the Gulf region, Herrera's maps remain as documentation for the claims and attitudes of one of the great New World powers;" and Plate 7.


    3. "Description [sic] del Destricto del Audiencia de la Española." Plate mark: 21 x 21.6 cm. To face p. 7. Map of the Caribbean, southern North America to present Port Royal (South Carolina), Florida, and the northern part of South America. Burden, The Mapping of North America, 142: "Of interest to us on this map is the distinctive narrow Florida peninsula. Unlike the previous item [Burden 141] some internal detail and nomenclature is given. It contains a relatively accurate delineation of the R. de S. Matheo, St. Johns River, with a large upstream lake. Along with the appearance of Santagustin [San Augustine], it illustrates the presence of the Spanish in Florida since 1565. This is one of the more detailed of Herrera's maps."


    4. "Description [sic] del Destricto del Audiencia de Nueva España." Plate mark: 17.1 x 29 cm. To face p. 23. Map of Central America, including the Yucatan peninsula, present-day Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. Rivers and settlements are located.


    5. "Descripcion del Destricto del Audiencia de la Nueva Galicia." Plate mark: 20.6 x 28.8 cm. To face p. 29. Map of part of Central America, including present-day Mexican states of Aguascalientes, Colima, and Jalisco, and parts of Durango, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Zacatecas. The establishment and delimitation of the political jurisdiction of Nueva Galicia began with the founding of Colima by Cortés' agents in 1525.


    6. "De[s]cripcion del Audiencia de Guatimala." Plate mark: 20.3 x 28.3 cm. To face p. 32. Map of part of Central America, including present-day Chiapas, southern Yucatan, Guatemala, Nicaragua, south to Costa Rica and Panama.


    7. "Descripcion de las Yndias de Mediodia." Plate mark: 21.6 x 23.5 cm. To face p. 38. Map of South America showing the papal line of demarcation, Amazon River, Rio de la Plata, and the Strait of Magellan.


    8. "Descripcion del Audiencia de Panama." Plate mark: 17.9 x 23 cm. To face p. 39. Map of the audiencia of Panama, showing rivers and settlements.


    9. "Descripcion del Audiencia del Nuevo Reino." Plate mark: 20.6 x 21.6 cm. To face p. 41. Map of the audiencia of the New Kingdom of Granada, present-day Colombia and Venezuela, locating rivers and settlements.


    10. "Descripcion del Audiencia del Quito." Plate mark: 20.7 x 24.6 cm. To face p. 47. Map of the audiencia of Quito, present-day Ecuador with parts of Peru, Colombia, and Brazil, showing rivers and settlements.


    11. "Descripcion del Destrieto [sic] del Audiencia de Lima." Plate mark: 20.8 x 24.6 cm. To face p. 54. Map of the audiencia of Lima, present-day Ecuador, parts of Peru, Colombia, and Brazil, including rivers, Lake Titicaca, and settlements.


    12. "Descripcion del Audiencia de los Charcas." Plate mark: 21 x 22.8 cm. To face p. 61. Map of the audiencia of Charcas, present-day Bolivia, with some rivers and settlements.


    13. "Descripcion de la Provincia de Chile." Plate mark: 12.6 x 28.2 cm. To face p. 64. Map of the audiencia of Chile with some topographical details, rivers, settlements. Oriented with east at top.


    Bound without Map 14: "Descripcion de las Indias del Poniente." To face p. 72. Map of the East Indies from Bengal to the Solomon Islands and north to Japan, which is shown as one main island. Although the contours of the mainland and islands (especially the Philippines and New Guinea) are somewhat sketchy, the many place names are accurately positioned. Includes a numbered key to three major island groups: the Moluccas, the Philippines, and the Ladrones.

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