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[Incunable] (Rudimentum novitiorum: French:) La mer des histoires.
Selling price: $37100
This famous volume contained the first detailed printed maps ever produced. Two separate blocks of the world map were made for French issues of the Mer de Hystoires, the first in Paris in 1488 and the second in Lyons in 1491.
?Whereas the earlier La Mer des Hystoires map of 1488 remained close to the Rudimentum Novitiorum prototype, this second (and reduced) derivation of 1491 betrays the work of a thinking individual? -- Campbell.
A number of mistakes have been corrected, and the text is much clearer than in the previous editions. This magnificent vernacular incunable is rightly famous for its illustrations: 2 double-page woodcut maps, 54 (23 + 31) full-page illustrations (mostly genealogical), 38 (17 + 21) nice woodcut borders, 6 very large historiated initials (i.a. the famous ?S with dragons?), 19 (4 + 15) half-page ills, 162 (75 + 87) square woodcut ills (mostly 8,5 x 8 cm) and 22 (15 + 7) ?smaller? woodcuts.
The series is for the larger part copied after the German ed. and the first Paris ed. of 1488-89.
The present copy is nicely rubricated in red and blue throughout. The book includes two important maps and are the first printed maps to try and show land forms and countries in topographical relation to each other: one is a circular world map 12? in diameter, and the other of Palestine. Both were woodcuts, both printed from two blocks. The World map was, in its basis and design mediaeval, with the World compressed into the circular frame of the 'T-O' form.
The world is portrayed in pictorial form; thus, the Pope can be seen in the lower left quadrant, enthroned in Rome, with the Pillars of Hercules positioned at the very foot, with Spain, and then the British Isles just above.
Over 100 places-names and geographic features are identified, with towns and countries named. Each country is represented as a separate hill accompanied by either a figure of the sovereign or several small buildings representing towns. Many of the hills are surrounded by water, and there are numerous trees, buildings, historical and religious figures scattered throughout. ?It is unlikely that the mapmaker intended his readers to treat too literally the relationship of distance and direction between one country and another,? according to Tony Campbell, ?Crete and Cyprus, for example, are shown to the northeast of France and Rome is to the south of it.? Nevertheless, this remarkable map provides us with one of the earliest, and certainly the most complete, depictions of Europe?s medieval conception of the world. The Holy Land map is the first printed modern map, as it bears no relation to Ptolemy.
It presents a bird's eye view over the hills and seas with Jerusalem in its centre.As usually the case some pages (29ff.) are missing, of the 16 known copies only 6 are complete!
This copy in very nice condition. Well bound and the maps have plenty of margin. A must for the serious collector !
Reference.: ISTC IR00347000 [16 copies, only 6 complete]. Goff R-347 [3: Rosenwald coll., Library of Congress; Spencer coll., New York Public Library; Pt. II only in Univ. of Illinois]. Pellechet/Polain 7841 (7779). BN R-222 [5, not all complete]. Sheehan Vaticana R-132. Claudin, Hist. imprimerie en France III 493-502 [ext. note + ills]. Brunet III col. 1640. Cp. Mortimer Harvard French 467-469 (3 later eds.).
Not in Polain (B), IDL, IGI, BMC, BSB München, Walsh Harvard, Fairfax Murray (French).
Reference for the world map: Shirley, The Mapping of The World, #17, plate 23, Rarity Index S; Tony Campbell, The Earliest Printed Maps, pp. 148-149; Brunet, Volume III, p. 1641
Wesley A. Brown, The World Image Expressed in the Rudimentum Novitiorum, Philip Lee Phillips Society, Library of Congress, Occasional Paper Series, No. 3.
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