Histoire Naturelle et Morale des Indes, tant Orientalles qu’Occidentales…. José / REGNAULT ACOSTA, tr, Robert.
Histoire Naturelle et Morale des Indes, tant Orientalles qu’Occidentales…
Histoire Naturelle et Morale des Indes, tant Orientalles qu’Occidentales…
Histoire Naturelle et Morale des Indes, tant Orientalles qu’Occidentales…
With The Prestigious French Provenance of Andre Felibien des Avaux
Court Historian to Louis XIV
Paris, Marc Orry, 1598.

Histoire Naturelle et Morale des Indes, tant Orientalles qu’Occidentales….

Large 8vo. Large 8vo. [17 x 10.5 cm], (8), 375, (17) ff. Bound in contemporary yapp-edged flexible vellum, covers slightly soiled. Early ownership inscription of Felibien des Avaux in upper blank margin of title and his bookplate on title-page verso. Small, very pale waterstain in gutter coming and going, and small single wormtrack in blank right margin of a few signatures at end. Slight soiling in the internal margin of 2 pages. A candle burn on 2 leaves, affecting printed surface of a few words recto and verso of p.l. 369. That said, a wide-margined genuine copy, very good.

Scarce first French edition of this classic on the natural history of Latin America.  Streeter noted, “[Acosta] provided great detail in his descriptions of sailing directions, mineral wealth, trading commodities, Indian history, etc.  Consequently his work operated more strongly than any other in opening the eyes of the rest of Europe to the great wealth that Spain was drawing from America.” The Histoire ranks as one of the earliest balanced eyewitness accounts devoted to the New World, with mentions of tobacco, chocolate and coca, and of the use of quicksilver in silver mines to extract larger quantities of ore. The three books devoted to early native Americans  are particularly esteemed since they describe their life, medicine, history, customs and wars  before they were significantly influenced by Europeans. The Historie is also an important biographical source for the lives of Cortez and Pizarro.

 

Acosta (1539-1600) wrote from firsthand knowledge, having spent 17 years at Jesuit missions in Mexico and Peru.  The work was used as a basic source for the physical geography of America for over 200 years, by Humboldt and many others. Acosta anticipated Buffon in attributing different degrees of heat and cold in the Old and New Worlds to the agency of the winds. 

 

The translator into French of this work was the Minim Robert Regnault, one of the early librarians of the peerless Place Royale Collection, and his translation was done during Acosta’s lifetime and served as a useful source of information for those who set off for the Americas at that time from France.

 

The original owner of this copy, Andre Felibien Escuier, Sieur des Avaux, Seigneur de Lavercy (1619-1695) was court historian to Louis XIV, and close to Fouquet and Colbert. He  was one of the first members (1663) of the Academy of Inscriptions and secretary to the newly founded Academy of Architecture where he also taught.  In 1673 he was appointed keeper of the cabinet of antiquities in the Palais Brion. He is recognized as one of the first art critics, and the author of several influential books on art, architecture and color theory.

 

JCB I, 358; Adams A-127 (reprint of 1600); Hoover 9 (English 1604); Streeter I, 32 (English 1604). 

Price: $4,850.00

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