Explorer's descriptions of America set to sell for $350k

Bloomsbury Auctions is offering a spectacular selection of works from before 1625 at its New York sale this week. The works are from the fabled collection of Bruce McKinney.

One of many highlights is the second, Latin, edition of what has been described as the first illustrated travel book: Bernhard von Breydenbach's 1497 work Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam, which contains his account of his visit to the Holy Lands.

It is filled with useful information on places in and on the way to the Holy Land, distances, customs and language. The spectacular woodcut panoramics are based on the work of Erhard Reuwich of Utrecht, the pilgrims' official artist - the first book illustrator known by name. The work is expected to sell for $70,000-100,000.

Jan Linschoten Interario travel book
Jan Linschoten's Itinerario

A century later in 1596, another travel guide was compiled in Dutch by explorer Jan Linschoten, generally known simply as Itinerario. It was held in tremendous regard, and copies were taken as standard on ships heading to India from Holland for over 90 years.

The work is in three volumes, which provide the best information available on both East and West Indies available at the time. It is very rare to see a first edition of the text at auction in such excellent condition as this one, and it is valued at $80,000-120,000.

Hartmann Schedel History of the World book
Hartmann Schedel's History of the World

Also notable is a first edition of the German text Das Buch der Croniken und Geschichten by Hartmann Schedel, which was the first history of the world published in a language other than Latin.  Perhaps the most extensively illustrated book of the 15th century, it is estimated at $100,000-150,000.

The expected top lot is a work by Samuel De Champlain from 1613, detailing De Champlain's four expeditions to the Americas, long before the Pilgrims set out.

It is the first work which records the position of the New England coast and presents an important historical map of Canada. De Champlain also provides clear descriptions and illustrations of the Yroquois (or Iroquois) tribe and the explorers' interactions with them.

This first edition, known as the Siebert copy, is a beautiful text and an unsurpassable piece of early Americana. As such it is expected to sell for $250,000-350,000.

The sale, which offers some of the rarest and most coveted books and maps available this year, takes place on December 3 and the works are already on view.


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