HUMBOLDT, Alexander von (1769-1859), and Aimé BONPLAND (1773-1858)
Vues des Cordillères et Monumens des Peuples Indigènes de l'Amérique
Paris: [de l'imprimerie de J.H. Stône] chez F. Schoell, 1810. Two volumes in one, folio. (20 1/2 x 13 3/8 inches). Titles and text through page 308, printed on very fine vellum (the final 20 leaves of text [comprising the conclusion of the Notes and the Tables, i.e. pp. 309-350] and the sectional title preceding the plates, printed on papier velin). 69 engraved plates on 68 leaves (27 hand coloured, printed in colours or printed in colours and finished by hand [1 of these double-page], 4 printed in sepia), Without the engraved dedication leaf or the series general title.
Modern full red morocco gilt, spine gilt with semi-raised bands, marbled endpapers.
A unique example with text printed on vellum of one of the great monuments to scientific exploration.
This work is one of the most important publications to result from the expedition to America in 1799-1804 of the great German scientist and explorer, Alexander von Humboldt, and the botanist, Aimé Bonpland. During their extensive trip, the two gathered a mass of material relating to all aspects of the New World, and their work in the field and the subsequent publications set a new standard for scientific exploration and reporting. Humboldt and Bonpland set out to investigate the area's geography, natural history, archaeology, and native customs, supplementing, their field explorations, with extensive research in Europe. The series of publications resulting from the expedition began in 1805 and took decades to publish, the present volume being the first major work from the series to appear.
Vue des Cordillères... is most notable for its remarkable aquatint plates of scenes in South and Central America, particularly the magnificent double-page plate of the great volcano of Chimborazo in the Andean highlands. Most of these were made from Humboldt's original sketches. His involvement in the publication was close, especially in checking the colouring, which was done under his personal supervision to insure accuracy. These plates beautifully illustrate views, native costumes, and antiquities. "The most beautiful and generally interesting of all Humboldt's works" (Sabin).
The work is equally important as the first extensive treatment of surviving pre-Columbian and immediately post-Columbian Indian codices. The first publication of any part of the famed Dresden Codex, the most extensive of surviving pre-Columbian codices, is found herein, again with superb colouring. There are also coloured prints of the Codex Mendoza and plates drawn from various other important codices. Humboldt's treatment of them is a landmark in the rediscovery of the pre-Columbian civilizations. "Every class of Mexican, Aztec, and Peruvian Antiquity receives in this work the clearest philosophical analysis" (Field).
This an extraordinary copy with the vast majority of the text printed entirely on very fine vellum. We find no reference to the work being issued in this very deluxe format.
Field 739; Hill 839; Lipperheide 1630; Palau 117026; Pilling Proof-Sheets 1871; Sabin 33754; Brunet III:373.