Auction 137, Lot 6

"The History of the World", Raleigh, Walter (Sir)

Subject: Title Pages

Period: 1652 (dated)


Color: Hand Color

7 x 12 inches
17.8 x 30.5 cm

Sir Walter Raleigh, an adventurer and poet, wrote The History of the World about the ancient history of Greece and Rome while imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1607 to 1614. The book was immediately banned by King James I, ostensibly due to unflattering portrayals of Babylonian Queen Semiramis and her effeminate son, Ninus. The fascinating frontispiece to his book centers on Magistra Vitae, a representation of History who supports a globe flanked by the personifications of Good and Evil. History stands upon Death (the skeleton Mars) and Oblivio, a personification of Forgetfulness. At History's sides are Experience, holding a probing wand and sounding line, and Truth, with a fiery mirror, surrounded by four named columns: Testis Temporum (Time's Witness), Nuncia Vetustatis (Herald of Antiquity), Lux Veritatis (Light of Truth), and Vita Memoriae (Life of Memory). Above the whole scene is the all-seeing eye of God. From an edition published after Raleigh's death by beheading in 1618.

References: Shirley (TP) #35.

Condition: B+

A few minute worm holes, some soiling and a few light creases. The bottom-right corner has been repaired on verso with old paper.

Estimate: $170 - $275

Sold for: $220

Closed on 9/14/2011