"AMONG THE HISTORIANS OF AMERICA, THIS AUTHOR HOLDS THE FIRST RANK": LOVELY FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF THE MOST ACCURATE EARLY ACCOUNT OF THE SPANISH IN AMERICA, WITH ENGRAVED MAPS AND PLATES IN HANDSOME CONTEMPORARY CALF-GILT
HERRERA, Antonio de. The General History of the Vast Continent and Islands of America, Commonly call'd, the West-Indies, from The First Discovery thereof… Translated into English by Capt. John Stevens. London: for Jer. Batley, 1725-26. Six volumes. Octavo, contemporary full paneled brown calf rebacked with original elaborately gilt-decorated spines and red morocco spine labels retained, raised bandes, endpapers renewed. $12,000.
First edition in English, with engraved frontispiece portraits of Cortés and Columbus, three engraved folding maps and 13 copper-plate engravings—12 folding—many depicting Native Americans, in contemporary calf-gilt.
"Of all the Spanish writers Herrera furnishes the fullest and most accurate information concerning the conquest of Mexico, as well as the general history of the New World" (Stevens 811). Philip II of Spain appointed Herrera first historiographer of the Indies. His Historia general de los hechos de los Castellanos relates the history of the Spanish-American colonies from 1492 to 1554. "No one has ever disputed the fidelity of Herrera, styled the Prince of Historians, to the sources of information then accessible, and no one has ever exceeded him in careful research, and interesting narration of aboriginal history. He sought and obtained many of the original documents, which the industry and spirit of the old missionaries and explorers made so numerous and voluminous. He copied, almost bodily, the manuscript History of the Indies by Las Casas. His work is a perfect treasure-house of the most valuable details, regarding the original state of the religion and manners of the Indians. Of Herrera, Ternaux says, 'Among the historians of America this author holds the first rank'" (Field 691). First published in Madrid, 1601-15. With beautiful woodcut headpieces, tailpieces and initials throughout. Bound with leaf of publisher's advertisements at rear of Volume IV, V, and VI. Sabin 31557. Streeter I:140. European Americana 725.
Only occasional marginal soiling, text and plates generally quite clean; Volume IV with expertly repaired marginal closed tear to leaf X4 and light expert cleaning to preliminaries only. An attractive copy in contemporary calf-gilt.