MARTYR, Peter; Gonzalo OVIEDO; and Giovanni RAMUSIO
[Summario de la General Historia de I'Indie Occidentali...(title given on verso of first leaf)]
Venice: 1534. 79; 64, ;  leaves. Double-sheet map. Woodcut illustrations in text. Contemporary full vellum, manuscript title on spine, raised bands. Neat bookplate on front pastedown, old bookseller's label on rear pastedown. Contemporary ownership signature on front free endpaper. Title leaf and first leaf of text remargined, not affecting text. Slight dampstaining in upper outer corner of first thirty-four leaves. Closed tear in leaf 56. Occasional contemporary ink notations in margins, manuscript start of an index on rear fly leaf. Two small burn holes in map, not affecting any printed area. Overall a very good copy. In a brown half morocco slipcase.
Important source for primary material on the New World.
This important collection of voyages and narratives is the work of several authors, although most bibliographers attribute it to Peter Martyr, a translation of whose work makes up the first section. The present volume is one of the first attempts anywhere to assemble a group of accounts of travel and exploration. It was probably assembled for publication by the Venetian, Giovanni Ramusio, later famous for his much larger collection, Navigationi..., which began publication in 1554. Only the Montalboddo collection precedes it as a collection of voyage narratives outside Europe; this is the first collection to focus entirely on the New World. The Historia... is divided into three books. The first part is made up of material from the Decades of Peter Martyr, drawn from the edition of 1530, the first complete edition to present all eight Decades. The second and most important part is drawn from the first published work of the great historian and chronicler of the early West Indies, Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo's De la Natural Hystoria de las Indias (Toledo, 1526). Since that pioneering work of American natural history (which is a completely different book from Oviedo's later Historia general...) is virtually unobtainable today, the present 1534 publication is the only form in which the first work of Oviedo can be had. Oviedo's observations are the first accurate reports of New World plants and animals. He also provides one of the first accounts of Bermuda, where he tried to land while en route to Spain in 1515, only to be driven off by adverse winds. The distinction of being the first obtainable edition is also true of the third part, a translation of an anonymously written tract entitled La Conquista de Peru, first published in Seville, also in 1534, of which only three copies survive. It gives the text of the tract in full. Both are among the first published accounts of the conquest of Peru. The woodcuts in the text are both drawn from the work of Oviedo and made up by the Venetian printers. They are some of the earliest published images of the New World based on actual experience, as opposed to the fantasies of European woodcut artists. There is also a handsome double-page woodcut map of Hispaniola, an extremely early piece of detailed New World cartography. The earliest voyage collection focusing on the New World, a work of tremendous importance in the dissemination of knowledge of America to Europe.
European Americana 534/28; Harrisse 190; Church 69; Arents 3; JCB (3)I:114; Sabin 1565; Streeter Sale 13.