Novus orbis regionum ...Huttich, Johannes.1532. First Edition.

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[Huttich, Johannes], Simon Grynaeus (pref.), Sebastian Münster (cartog.) [and Hans Holbein (illust.)]. Novus orbis regionum ac insularum veteribus incognitarum, unà cum tabula cosmographica, & aliquot alijs consimilis argumenti libellis, quorum omnium catalogus sequenti patebit pagina. His accessit copiosus rerum memorabilium index. Basel: Io[hannes] Hervagius, 1532. First edition.


Pot folio in 6s (11 ½” x 8”, 292mm x 204mm): α6 β6 γ6 a-z6 A-Cc6, binder’s blank [$4 signed; –α1]. 312 leaves, pp. [36] (title, contents, 3pp. dedication, 31pp. index) 1-584 2583 2584, [2] (register, printer’s device (a triple Herm)). [=xlviii, 586, ii] With a folding woodcut map (Harrisse A) of the world excised and framed separately.
Bound in contemporary limp vellum with yapp edges and tawed leather ties. On the spine, Navigationes et descrip.es orbis inked vertically in fine humanist script. All edges of the text-block speckled red. Presented in a grey cloth clam-shell box with a morocco spine-label gilt.


Some rippling and a little soiling to the vellum. All four ties partly perished. Rear paste-down split at the head. Lacking quire δ (between γ and “a”: 12 pp. Münster’s notes to the map). Map excised and framed. Some very mild tanning throughout the text, with occasional leaves with more pronouned darkening. Some very restrained early ink marginalia. In all, a lovely unsophisticated copy. The clam-shell box split at the front hinge, and the label coming up and partly perished. With the morocco label of Michael Sharpe to the inside of the front of the box.
$90,000.

 

Although the map (rightly) has a nearly electromagnetic pull, being the first to indicate Copernicus’ model of the revolving world (predating his 1543 De revolutionibus by 11 years), the book in which it was published is monumental in its own right: the first collection of voyages. The work — indeed, both works contained in the present volume — emerges from the humanistic forge of the German-speaking Protestant world. Johann Huttich (Huttichius, 1490–1544) was part of the embassy that led Charles V to Madrid to announce his election as Holy Roman Emperor. While there he gained access to the accounts of Spanish and Portuguese (or Iberian-funded) explorers of the Americas (Cadamosto (whence the title-label), Columbus, Niño, Pinzón, Vespucci, Peter Martyr d’Anghiera) in addition to a great many voyages elsewhere (including Marco Polo) in Eurasia. While most of these had been printed elsewhere, their union in a single edited work is the first time we can discern the genre of voyages.
Simon Grynaeus (Griner, 1493–1541) was a student of Melanchthon’s at Pforzheim, and is perhaps best known for finding and editing the first five books of Livy’s history of Rome (1531) that would be published by Erasmus. His role, Harrisse and others argue, was principally as prefator. Sebastian Münster (1488–1552), whose principal job was professor of Hebrew, would nevertheless go on in 1544 to publish the Cosmographia, the first description of the world in German. Shirley attributes the map to him, and indeed his twelve-page description of the map and its use suggests at the very least a deep involvement in its production. The final name attached to the work is that of Hans Holbein (The Younger, 1497–1543), who cut the fanciful border of the map with its cannibals and elephant hunt. In short, the Novus Orbus is the collective effort of some of the great humane minds of the Protestant Reformation.
The map is Harrisse A (“we are inclined to consider as the genuine map;” Shirley is agnostic about precedence), distinguished by the large “ASIA”. As such it is the first visual representation of the revolutionary model of the world: it revolves around a notional axis, and it is that action that accounts for daily and seasonal change. Münster (or Holbein) depicts this with angels at the North and South Poles powering the revolution via crank.
Michael Sharpe worked for many years as an antiquarian bookseller. The present item was bought at his sale (Sotheby’s New York, 11 December 2008, lot 178).
Adams G-1334, Alden & Landis 532/17, Harrisse 171, John Carter Brown I, p. 104 (JCB I:101), Sabin 34100, Shirley 67.

 

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