"Beschrijvinghe Van West-Indien", de Laet, Joannes
Subject: Geography Books
Period: 1630 (published)
Color: Black & White
8 x 12 inches
20.3 x 30.5 cm
De Laet's book is considered the most accurate description of the West Indies and Americas from the early seventeenth century. To research the book, de Laet read all the material he could find on the region, and drew upon his position as the director of the Dutch West India Company for the most up-to-date geographic knowledge. This is the second edition, written in Dutch, and contains numerous engravings of local people, animals and food of the region. The exquisite title page is filled with sea monsters and shells surrounding an architectural structure, with portraits of Dutch naval officers Pieter Heyn and Hendrick Lonck hanging from the columns. Above is a lion from the Dutch coat of arms attacking a wild horse standing on a globe, representing the Dutch expansion into the Americas. Below are vignettes of Matanca, Portugal and Olinda, Brazil, as well as a scene of Natives making offerings to a King, likely Frederick Henry, who was Stadtholder and Prince of Orange at the time. Originally containing 14 maps, these maps have been removed from this copy. Quarto, full mottled calf, raised bands with embossed title and gilt on spine. 622 pp, plus index.
References: Burden, #215.
Covers and spine are worn and cracked, but binding is sound. Text contains some light damp stains primarily in front section, short tears on a few pages, and very minor worm damage in index pages at back. Front free end-papers contain signatures and dates (1758 & 1839) in ink by previous owners. Overall a good reading copy.