Catalog Archive
Auction 167, Lot 445

Part IV of Grand Voyages by Girolamo Benzoni with 29 Engravings

"Das Vierdte Buch von der Neuwen Welt. Oder Neuwe und Grundtliche Historien/ von dem Nidergangishcen Indien/ so von Christophoro Columbo im Jar 1492...", Bry, Theodore de

Subject: Exploration & Surveys

Period: 1613 (published)


Color: Black & White

9.4 x 13.9 inches
23.9 x 35.3 cm

This copper engraving is from a remarkable series of publications, illustrating voyages of discovery and travels of exploration to various parts of the world. The project was begun by Theodore de Bry of Frankfurt, in 1590 and was to continue for another 54 years. They became known collectively as the Grands Voyages (to America and the West Indies) and the Petits Voyages (to the Orient and the East Indies). De Bry died after the first six parts of the Grands Voyages were completed. The project was completed initially by his widow and two sons, Johann Theodore de Bry and Johann Israel de Bry, then by his son-in-law, Matthaus Merian in 1644.

This is the first issue of the second German edition of Part IV of de Bry's landmark compilation of travel and discovery narratives. This volume chronicles the first part of Girolamo Benzoni's history of the world, focusing on his travels throughout the West Indies. Benzoni, an Italian explorer, spent 15 years traveling through the Spanish possessions in the New World. He published an account of his travels in Historia del Mondo Nuovo, first published in Italian in Venice in 1565. De Bry followed a Latin translation of Benzoni's work to publish in his Grand Voyages, adding numerous engravings. The title page to this volume, which is included twice in this edition, is presented in an organic style, with Columbus' ships sailing through a rock arch at bottom and a grotesque Indian god being worshiped at top. A variety of West Indian natives fill the jungle scene that surrounds the German title. Also of note is the plate America Retectio, an allegorical engraving commemorating the discovery of the New World. Flora (Florence) and Janus (Genoa) reveal a globe, that rests on the reclined body of Neptune (Oceanus), above a map of the coast of Italy. The title is suspended between portraits of Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. Within the globe, Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria, is shown leaving Genoa and approaching the West Indies and Vespucci’s ship is shown departing Italy (near his hometown of Florence) and sailing along the coast of South America. Mars displays the arms of Florence at upper right, while Neptune presents the arms of Genoa at left. The 24 numbered plates in this volume feature engravings of Benzoni, Columbus, and their adventures in the West Indies, Central America, and northern South America:

1. Departure of Benzoni from Sanlucar, Spain
2. Flying fish and dolphins in the Atlantic
3. An old Indian woman of Venezuela
4. Indian slaves are captured to work in the pearl fisheries
5. Spanish immortality is tested on Puerto Rico
6. Columbus reaches the West Indies
7. Columbus' Egg
8. Columbus departs on his first voyage from Huelva, Spain
9. Columbus lands on the island of San Salvador
10. Columbus punishes the seditious Spanish
11. A terrifying storm hits Hispaniola
12. Columbus discovers pearls off Cubagua
13. Columbus and his brother are arrested
14. Mutiny in Jamaica
15. The discovery of the Magellan Strait
16. Indians of Venezuela murder Spanish monks
17. The Spanish get their revenge
18. Indians are attached near Cartagena
19. Lope de Olano rebuilds his boat in Panama
20. The Spanish are fed with liquid gold by the Indians of Darien
21. The first sighting of the Pacific Ocean
22. Balboa uses dogs against the Indians in Panama
23. Indian suicides under Spanish rule
24. A religious ritual on Hispaniola

In addition to the 24 numbered plates, the two title pages, and America Retectio are an engraving of Columbus crossing the Atlantic and a plate of arms. Small folio; [17]pp.; 141pp.; 29 full and half-page engravings. Handsomely rebound in quarter vellum over marbled-paper covered boards with embossed title on spine. The volume is housed in a black cloth-covered slipcase.



The plates range in condition from A (near fine) to B (good), with 12 of the plates in A condition and 11 of the plates in B+ condition. Six of the plates are in B condition and have been professionally backed in Japanese tissue to repair tears that extend into the image and chips that are nearly all confined to the blank margins. The text has light to moderate toning, with damp stains along the edges of several pages. The new binding and slipcase show minor wear. A very nicely restored volume.

Estimate: $2,000 - $2,500

Sold for: $3,750

Closed on 3/28/2018