Catalog Archive
Auction 153, Lot 770

Rare History of Moravian Missions in US Virgin Islands

"Geschichte der Mission der Evangelischen Bruder auf den Caraibischen Inseln S. Thomas, S. Croix und S. Jan…",

Subject: Exploration & Surveys, US Virgin Islands

Period: 1777 (published)


Color: Black & White

4.5 x 7.5 inches
11.4 x 19.1 cm

This is the fascinating history of the Moravian Missions in the Danish West Indies based on the work of Christian George Andreas Oldendorp. A minister in the Moravian Church in Europe, Oldendorp traveled to the Danish West Indies to collect information on the progress of the missions. He spent many months on St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John, interviewing natives and collecting data on social conditions, slavery, geography, and piracy. Oldendorp returned to Europe with over 3,000 pages of information from his research, which was then condensed by Johann Jacob Bossart and published in 1777. The book includes two volumes in one. The first volume focuses on the geographical, scientific and ethnological conditions of the islands, including detailed descriptions of the living conditions of the slaves. The second volume pertains to the history of the missions located on the islands. Three folding maps of the Lesser Antilles, St. Thomas, and St. Croix are included, which were engraved by Paul Kuffner based on drawings made by Oldendorf. There are four folding plates of views of missions, engraved by J. G. Sturm and G.P. Nussbiegel, which represent some of the earliest views of the islands. A folding table gives a translation guide for numbers and common words between German and over 20 native tribal languages. Oldendorf's work represents the first printed history of the islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John.

First edition, complete with 1068 pp., index, 3 folding maps, 4 folding plates, and one folding table. 12mo. Original full leather binding with raised bands on spine.


Condition: B+

Overall very good condition with minor soiling and occasional foxing. The maps have crisp impressions with a few spots of foxing. The map of the Lesser Antilles has a 4" binding tear and the map of St. Thomas has a 2" tear that have both been closed on verso with cello tape. The first folding plate of St. Thomas has a tiny tear and a small chip at bottom. Internally very tight. Covers are moderately worn with a chip at the bottom of the front cover, and the spine has numerous cracks but still intact.

Estimate: $900 - $1,100


Closed on 5/20/2015