A beautiful book, filled with incunable, and post-incunable woodcuts, in a contemporary binding. The first history to describe Columbus' voyage to "India", but America (1st included in the 1503 edition). Over one hundred woodcuts with views of cities (including Rome, Venice, etc.), a handful of biblical scenes/portraits, and two very interesting ancient maps (in one woodcut).
Jacobus Philippus Foresti first produced his Chronicle in 1483, as a supplement to those Chronicles already in print. It was reprinted frequently. The 1503 edition is credited with being the first book to give a lengthy description of Columbus' trip, the text of which is also found in this edition of 1520 (verso 342, recto 343).
Some woodblock city-views were either recut to be nearly exact, or are still the incunable blocks, re-used.
Regarding the maps, they are the woodcut with the two circles (globes). The left map is a "zonal" map, known as contemporary to Pythagoras (circa 500 BC). The right map is known as a T-O map - "In these examples to O represents the boundary of the world, the horizontal stroke of the T the meridian running from the Don to the Nile, and the perendicular axis (the T-O maps invariably being oriented with east at the top) the line of the Mediterranean. T-O maps appeared in manuscripts from the early Middle Ages, and the very first printed world map, from a version of the seventh-century AD writer Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae published in 1472, is of this kind." - Rodney Shirley
I love the contemporary beveled wood binding, with some tooling in the leather spine.
The 1520 edition is rare. I found one record of it selling in 1907 (Bibliotheca Brasiliense, item #384), and three of the world's libraries seem to have copies: Villanova University, University of London Research Library Services Warburg Institue, and the British Library St. Pancras. The St. Pancras copy is hosted digitally and can be viewed (digital store i.d. - "9006.i.10."). OCLC #25540094 and OCLC #1064227220.
A note on the 1st leaf says this copy was purchased in Venice in the 1880s. The ex libris of the Grolier Club member Nathan Comfort Starr is on the back of the front board.
Physical Attributes -
Measures approx. 34 x 22 x 7 cm, folio. Bevelled oak boards with leather spine. Clasp hardware on back board, nails and remnants of leather clasps at front. More brass nails at edges of spine leather. Interlocking design tooled in blind onto leather. Three raised bands to spine, compartments with diapering by double blind fillet, title on paper in one compartment.
103 in-line woodcut illustrations, some repeated; most are views of cities, a few are biblical, and one map. One large full-page woodcut of Adam and Eve's expulsion. Two other large woodcuts from the famous 1503 edition are included, but lack the borders to make them full-page (as in 1503): Cain/Abel, and Babylon (the Creation is missing). The first leaf has richly illustrated borders. Each of the sixteen books has a decorated initial at its start.
356 leaves, numbered. Missing introductory 1st quire that included the title page, table of contents and one woodcut (creation). Pagination starts at "1" and collates complete thereafter (see condition notes).
Collation - A6, B to Z8, x8, y6
Leaves mis-numbered at 16,129, 198, 209, 251, 260, 279, and 287
Because of the importance of this book, I will be very detailed. Please bear in mind, that it's in its contemporary binding, with wide margins, and completely functional in book form (it is not brittle). It is a delight to peruse.
Binding is (likely) contemporary and shows the signs of 500 years. Remnants of leather straps. Some worm holes (not bad). Start of crack at bottom of front board. Some cracking at bottom of front joint. Top and bottom of spine good, with endbands present! Some remnants of a label on back board. About .5 cm. has cracked off from top left of rear board, for about four inches along fore-edge (barely noticeable). Start of crack at bottom of rear board too. Labels to spine have some loss. Pastedowns, if it had any, have been removed.
Missing 1st quire of eight leaves. Title page was on the first missing leaf, with the "tabula" (table) starting on the verso, and concluding on the recto of the last leaf missing, the verso of which had a creation woodcut. Can be seen at the British Library's digital posting. This book starts at leaf "1", and is complete excepting the title, table of contents, and 1st woodcut (I collated, and checked against the BL copy).
At bottom of inside of boards, and only on the page with the Adam and Eve expulsion (and facing), there is a trace of white which I believe is long dead mold. It may still be active, but I doubt it or it'd have spread, and would stink. I think it's long dead, probably from when it was in Venice (the moisture).
There is a trace of moisture mark at bottom edge (again, Venice), but the book is entirely dry. Mark only touches text at ends, and about 10 leaves in the middle. At last 10 leaves it is heaviest/darkest at bottom.
Damage to last leaf, bottom, clipping some of the colophon.
On page 1, notes in margins, thumbing, stains, two worm holes, and faded with some lines filled in with gall ink.
Some spots (fox, rust), toning, thumbing, page edge chip or small tear, etc. throughout.
Many illustrations have toned... not sure why. Perhaps something to do with the ink and paper reacting to each other.
Top corner chipped off leaf 21, no text affected. 6" tear from fore-edge 25, crude old repair. 3" tear bottom of 52. Ink smudge on 60. 2" fore-edge marginal tear on 63. 4" tear from bottom-edge 158. Ink spots at bottom of 269. Writing on verso of last leaf bleeds through last leaf (can be seen on last page of print).
Marginal notes, in an old hand, on about a dozen pages.
I used a "v" shaped cradle to not put undue burden on the binding, but when doing such the book still performs very well, doesn't feel fragile, and is very enjoyable with its many illustrations, history and overall sense of history.
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