Small folio [30 x 19 cm], engraved title. (6) ff., including emblematic “owl” plate, 101 (3) pp. , including one full-page of woodcut diagrams, and with 18 consecutively numbered plates, the first (of Columbus) signed Wolfgang Kilian. Total of 19 plates. Bound in contemporary Austrian vellum, emblem of Saint Benedict on front cover, arms of the author as Abbott of Seitenstetten on rear cover. Release stamp of Austrian State Library on. Minor finger soiling in outer margin of title, and light even toning throughout. A genuine copy, with the plates in fine impression.
Scarce first edition and an attractive copy, bound in what must be a presentation binding with the image of Saint Benedict stamped on the front cover and the arms of the author stamped on the back cover. The work is one of the more fanciful illustrated chronicles devoted to the New World published in the early decades of the 17th century, by the Benedictine Plautius, and a curious addition to the developing mythology of America in 17th-century Europe.
Riding the coat-tails of the success of the De Bry volumes on America, Plautius here celebrates the Benedictine Bernardo Buil, Apostolic Vicar of the New World and the first missionary to travel to America, along with a dozen monks on Columbus’ Second Voyage. In part a public relations effort on behalf of the Order, much besieged during the Counter-Reformation, the work compiles disparate relations, Benedictine and others (Léry on Brazil); the iconography, probably by Kilian, largely reimagines scenes similar to those that appeared earlier in De Bry. The plates include a famous scene of St. Brendan celebrating Mass on the back of a whale, native Indians feasting on baby alligators, the usual battle scenes, cannibalism and exotica (chrysanthemum, pineapple, potato, and Indian chief smoking).
* JCB II.156-6; Sabin 63367; Arents, Additions, V.201; Alden-Landis 621/100; Harisse, Columbus, p. 36; Binding: Siebmacher I, Abt. 5, II, p. 7.