Civitates Orbis Terrarum Braun, Georg; Frans Hogenberg and Simon van den Neuwel

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Cologne: Petrus von Brachel, 1612-[1612]-1616-1617-[1617]-1618 (i.e., 1617/8) Folio (15 15/16" x 10 3/4", 404mm x 274mm). [Full collation available.] With 4 (of 6) hand-colored engraved title-pages and 364 (of 363; 5.14 is duplicated as 5.[chi]20) double-page hand-colored engraved plates (of which three are large-format folding plates: 5.27 (Antwerp) and 6.43 and 6.44 (Krakow). Additionally lacking 3.[pi]2 and 6.[chi]2. Else collated perfect against Van der Kroegt/Koeman. Bound in contemporary laced stiff vellum with yapp edges. On the spine in ink manuscript between double fillets CIDADES/ DO MVNDO. All edges of the text-block gilt. Presented in velvet-lined quarter black morocco clam-shell boxes. Restored in early 2021 by Stuart Brockman (full restoration report available). Seven plates (2.3, 2.19; 5.14-16, 5.37; 6.2) supplied from other copies (6.2 slightly smaller). Tanning throughout, moderate in places, especially from pigment burn. Some general soiling to the covers, as ever with vellum.


Although Civitates Orbis Terrarum -- Cities of the World -- is the title given only to the first part of the work, it admirably describes what is otherwise named for its principal creators: Braun & Hogenberg. Georg Braun (Bruin in Dutch; 1541-1622) was the managing editor as well as the author of the descriptions appended to each plate. Frans Hogenberg (1543-1590) was fresh from his collaboration with Abraham Ortelius (the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum) when he suggested a complimentary account of the beacon of civilized life: the city. The project took some 40 years to come to completion; the first edition of part 1 was published in 1572, the first edition of part 6 was published in 1617. As the cities of Europe (principally; there are in fact views of cities on three additional continents: North America (Mexico and Cuzco, 1.58), Africa (Cairo, Tangier, Casablanca; 1.55-57) and Asia (Aden, 1.53; Calicut, 1.54 and Jerusalem several times) grew in size and splendor, there was a desire to document their features and organization. The views Braun chose were often drawn by local artists, and so there is an aspect of self-presentation as opposed to the intended accuracy of atlases proper. Although Dutch atlases are sometimes described as a bibliographer's nightmare, the Civitates is, properly, neither Dutch nor an atlas. Whereas other works of this sort often comprised a constantly-shifting buffet of updated plates that would replace one another, Braun and Hogenberg simply added new views and plans as they became available without replacing. Thus the work is unusually historicized, allowing the viewer to follow the development of, say, Jerusalem from 1572 (1.52) to 1575 (2.54) to 1588 (4.58-59). The owner of the present item waited until the publication of the final part (1617/8)s to purchase a uniform set: the most up-to-date edition of each volume, all by the Cologne publisher Petrus von Brachel. The only indication of the binder/owner's identity is the title on the spine (Cidades do Mundo): he was Portuguese. The relationship between Portugal and the rest of Europe in the early XVIIc was tempestuous, and so we feel in the set a certain rivalry: whose city has the most or most splendid spires, the greatest market, the most organized plan? The Civitates gave wide access to city planning in a variety of countries and climates, and allowed for a cross-pollination of best practices as cities ballooned into the XVIIc. Individual leaves from the Civitates have circulated widely for centuries, and as a result complete sets -- all six parts with all plates present -- are rare indeed, even in institutional collections. A contemporary binding (especially in vellum) in such fine condition is even rarer still. This may well be the ultimate trophy in picturing the development of the city. Van der Kroegt/Koeman IV.1: 1: 41:1.1(1612)A, .2(1612), .3(1616), .4(1617), .5(1617), 6(1617/18)B.