Frankfurt: Theodor De Bry, 1590. 34,pp., one plate and one double-page map, , twenty- two plates (five with accompanying text leaves), , five plates and accompanying text leaves, pp. Folio. 17th-century burgundy calf, paneled, tooled in gilt, expertly rebacked in matching calf, raised bands, spine gilt. Slight edge wear. 18th-century private library stamp at foot of titlepage below decorative engraving. Some age-toning, a few text leaves darker than others. Else a fine copy. Item #WRCAM37837A
A foundation work on the early exploration and delineation of America, describing and illustrating the first British colony to be established there. This volume is the first issued by the publisher, Theodor De Bry, in his extraordinary series, GRAND VOYAGES, describing the exploration of the New World. It is without question the most important of the series both in terms of contemporary influence and modern historical and ethnographic value. The elegant production values of De Bry, combined with the critically important text, make this volume one of the most important relating to the early discovery of North America. In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh received a ten-year charter to establish the first permanent English settlement in Virginia and over the course of the next five years four expeditions landed at Roanoke for that purpose. The second of those expeditions included mathematician and navigator Thomas Hariot and artist and later colonial governor John White. Upon his return to London, Hariot would privately publish in 1588 A BRIEF AND TRUE ACCOUNT OF THE NEW FOUND LAND OF VIRGINIA (extant in only 6 known copies) which detailed the explorations and discoveries during the 1585 expedition. The following year Hakluyt would include the text in his seminal PRINCIPALL NAVIGATIONS. In 1589, master engraver and publisher Theodor De Bry traveled to London where he met Hakluyt, who told him of the British expeditions to Virginia and shared with him both Hariot's journal and White's watercolors from the expedition. Hakluyt suggested the publication of a series of illustrated voyages to America, beginning with Hariot/White. De Bry returned to Frankfurt and in 1590 published the work in Latin (as here) and in German. Hariot's text is the first description of the Virginia and Carolina country. The map which accompanies the volume is the first really good map of the Virginia coast and Carolina capes, showing the coast from the mouth of the Chesapeake to Wilmington, North Carolina. John White's illustrations are among the most famous of early American images. White was the lieutenant-governor of the abortive colony, and a skilled artist besides. His carefully executed watercolors, gleaned from close observation and remarkably accurate renderings of the Carolina Indians and their customs, costumes, rituals, hunting practices and dwellings, are here expertly engraved by De Bry. No other artist so carefully rendered American Indians until Karl Bodmer worked on the Missouri in the 1830s. Besides these illustrations, there are plates showing White's conception of the ancient Picts of Scotland, to whom he wished to compare the American natives. A fine copy of a remarkably important Americanum, in its first issue. CHURCH 140. CUMMING & DE VORSEY 12. JCB I:396. VAIL 7 (note). EUROPEAN AMERICANA 590/31. ARENTS 37. SABIN 8784.