7. VARTHEMA, Ludovico di Novum itinerarium Aethiopiae, Aegipti utriusque Arabiae, Persidis, Siriae, ac Indiae, intra et extra Gangem [translated by Archangelo Madrignano] Milan: Joannes Andreas Scinzenzeler for Io. Iacomo and fratelli da Legnano, after 25 May 1511. Folio (270 x 190 mm). , 62 ff. 36 lines to the page in Roman type, shoulder notes printed in same. Printer’s woodcut device on title, woodcut initials. 19th centhury vellum-backed boards, red morocco lettering piece and contemporary library label to upper cover. Condition: lower margin damp-stained; boards lightly soiled, bottom corners worn. Provenance: Jacobus de Bannissis Dalmate (early ownership inscription on final leaf).
Acquisition: sale, Sotheby’s London, 6 June 2000, lot 332, £36,000 ($54,000).
first latin edition of the first account of a christian taking the pilgrimmage to mecca, one of the great travel narratives of the age of discovery. The Italian Ludivico di Varthema was one of the first to publish a detailed account of a voyage to Asia, well before many of his contemporaries. “…a man whose fame in his own lifetime rivaled that of Columbus and Magellan and who even now must win our admiration by his courage and resourcefulness.” (Penrose)
He set off on his travels from Venice in 1502, and adopting Muslim dress and manners upon his arrival in Egypt (a deception made considerably easier by his facility with foreign tongues), he eventually impersonated himself into a position as a guard for a group of pilgrims on their way to Mecca. Varthema became the first Christian to make the pilgrimage, an extremely dangerous enterprise.
While in Aden his true religion was discovered and spent two months imprisoned, before escaping,and evenutally making his way to India in the fall of 1504. Goa, Pulicat, Madras and Malacca were all eventual destitnations and described herein. His return voyage to Europe in 1508 took him past the Cape of Good Hope (and subsequently he became one of the first Europeans to descibe the Cape). By the end of the year he was writing this account of six years of travel. A remarkable journey for an European to have undertaken at this time.
"For correctness of observation and readiness … Varthema stands in the foremost rank of the old Oriental travellers. In Arabia and in the Indian archipelago east of Java he is (for Europe and Christendom) a real discoverer. Even where passing over ground traversed by earlier European explorers, his keen intelligence frequently adds valuable original notes on peoples, manners, customs, laws, religions, products, trade, methods of war." from Burton, The Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah
The present edition was issued a year after the almost unprocurable original edition (in fact the present was long considered the first). All early editions are a great rarity, with the first (Rome, 1510) not even listed in the NUC. Only this copy is listed at auction in the last 30 years.
Brunet 5, 1095; Church 36. ““This edition has the printer’s device, and is generally considered to have been issued in 1511, from the preface … The copy in the Lenox Library is without the printer’s device, but is in other respects identical with the copy here described, excepting that folio XX is wrongly numbered XXI. Brunet mentions a copy having the printer’s device, but lacking the introduction; JCB I, 41 (1510 edition).
est. $40000 – £60000