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The most important source for the Moluccas in the early colonial period

ARGENSOLA, Bartolome Leonardo de.
Conquista de las islas Malucas.
[Madrid, Alonso Martin, 1609]. Small folio (22 x 30 cm). With an engraved architectural title-page showing an allegorical scene (the Moluccas represented by a native woman with feather headdress, cornucopia and sword, riding a crocodile, with the Spanish royal coat of arms in the sky) and a sleeping lion (representing the author?) in a separate cartouche below. Early 18th-century richly gold-tooled red morocco, each board with a large centrepiece a petit fers made partly with pointillé stamps. (Integral?) engraved title-page + [10], “407” [= 411], [1 blank] pp.
€ 35,000
First edition of the author's principal work, in the original Spanish, dedicated to King Philip III of Spain, whose father had untied the Portuguese and Spanish crowns in 1580. It centres on the Philippines and the Moluccas, but also discusses China, Java, Sumatra and Ceylon, and even "los estrechos Persico y Arabico" (p. 12). The Portuguese naval commander Afonso de Albuquerque had conquered Malacca by 1511, a few decades after Arabic merchants introduced Islam there. This provided a base to quickly establish Portuguese influence over the islands of the region. "Few narratives are written with so much judgment and elegance ... One of the most important works for the history of the Philippine islands ... The book also contains matter relating to Sir Francis Drake and American voyages, and to the history of Spanish and Portuguese exploration in the Indies" (Cox). "For the compilation of this work, the author had the command of all authentic manuscript relations, which were either in official custody, or in private hands, besides the testimony of such persons then living as had been eyewitnesses to any part of what he delivers" (Griffin).
With the engraved armorial bookplate of Jeremiah Hill (ca. 1820). Later in the celebrated library of Sir Thomas Phillips (1792-1872), then the library of Philip Robinson. The imprint of the engraved title-page appeared below the thin-rule border at the foot and is usually shaved or (as in the present copy) wholly lost, along with part of the foot border itself but the title-page is otherwise complete and intact. A few leaves have marginal chips repaired at an early date or small worm holes in the head margin unobtrusively repaired, and one has a small hole repaired slightly affecting 4 words of text. A few leaves are slightly browned or show some spots or smudges, but the book is otherwise in good condition. The hinges are worn, with a few small cracks, and the head and foot of the spine slightly damaged, but the binding is otherwise good, with nearly all of the tooling very good. A beautifully bound copy of an essential source for any study of the Moluccas and the Philippines in the early Portuguese (from 1580 also Spanish) colonial period. Cox I, p. 284; Griffin & Phillips, Philippine Islands 23; Medina, Hisp.-Amer. 551; Palau 16089; Sabin 1946.
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Related Subjects:

Asia  >  Indonesia | Southeast Asia
Book history, education, learning & printing  >  Bindings
Middle east & islamic world  >  South and Southeast Asia