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“the foundation of England’s knowledge of America during the early period of colonization” — Printing and the Mind of Man

SMITH, JOHN. (English) The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: with the names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from their first beginning Ano: 1584 to this present 1626.

London: J. D.[awson] and I. H.[aviland] for Michael Sparkes, 1627

Folio. Engraved title page (Sabin’s third state), folding plate with map of Ould Virginia (fourth state), folding map of Virginia (tenth state), folding map of the Summer Isles (third state), and folding map of New England (Sabin’s eighth state), expertly mounted repairing a few old tears. This copy without the errata occasionally found pasted to foot of final page. Title a little soiled, minor stains. 17th-century blind-tooled calf, red morocco label, minor repairs, later endpapers. Half morocco case. A fine, fresh copy.

First edition, third issue. This is an outstanding copy of a foundational work of American history, from the library of the Calverts, the original Proprietors and colonial governors of Maryland.

This American classic is “the foundation of England’s knowledge of America during the early period of colonization” (PMM). John Smith was one of the original settlers of the Jamestown colony and a member of its governing council. After exploring the region for a year, Smith returned to find the settlement failing. “Although he is best known as the man who stepped in to force the disoriented Jamestown colonists to save themselves, his contribution as historian and theorist was also extremely important” (ANB), most notably his Generall Historie of Virginia.

The Generall Historie of Virginia contains Smith’s eyewitness accounts of the founding of Jamestown, his capture and rescue through the intercession of Pocahontas, his time spent in Virginia (1606- 1609), and his explorations of the New England coast (1610-1617). The work comprises six books as follows: 1) the first settlement of Virginia, and the subsequent voyages there to 1605, 2) the land and its Indian inhabitants, 3) Smith’s voyage and the settlement of Jamestown, from December 1606 to 1609, plus two pages reprinting laudatory verses addressed to Smith from The Description of New England, with a few lines of introduction by Smith beginning: “Now seeing there is thus much Paper here to spare,” 4) Virginia from the planting of Point Comfort in 1609 to 1623, 5) the history of the Bermudas (or Summer Isles) from 1593 to 1624, followed by verses also reprinted from the Description, and 6) the history of New England from 1614 to 1624. There was one edition of the text. Over the period of its sale, the title page was updated to reflect the year as well .0as the accession of Charles I, whose portrait appears on this title. The copper plates of the four excellent maps were also altered, adding names and changing details.

The Generall Historie of Virginia contains some of the most important American maps ever published including Smith’s map of Virginia (“one of the most important printed maps of America ever produced and certainly one of the greatest influence”) and his map of New England (“the foundation map of New England cartography, the one that gave it its name and the first devoted to the region”) (Burden).

This is a magnificent colonial American association copy in a period binding.

This book is from the library of the Calvert family, the original Proprietors of Maryland. It bears the bookplate of Benedict Leonard Calvert (1700-1732), restored Proprietary Governor of Maryland and son of Benedict Leonard Calvert, 4th Lord Baltimore. This copy may descend from George Calvert, 1st Lord Baltimore, who sailed from Newfoundland to Virginia in 1629. His son Cecil Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, was granted the charter for Maryland by Charles I in 1632. In 1715, the Crown restored proprietary rights to Benedict Leonard Calvert, 4th Lord Baltimore. His son Benedict Leonard Calvert, whose bookplate is in this volume, was named governor of Maryland by his brother, the 5th Lord Baltimore. Benedict Leonard Calvert died at sea in 1732 on his return voyage to England.

A superlative colonial provenance: Benedict Leonard Calvert (1700-1732), restored Proprietary Governor of Maryland and son of Benedict Leonard Calvert, 4th Lord Baltimore (bookplate reading: “The Honble Benedict Leonard Calvert Esqri. 2d son to the Rt. Honble. Ben. Leo. Lord Baltemore [sic] Absolute Lord and Proprietary of the Provinces of Maryland & Avalon in America”); anonymous owner, Sotheby’s London, 28 June 1985, lot 358; Jay Snider, Christie’s New York, 21 June 2005, lot 1.

Printing and the Mind of Man 124. Burden The Mapping of North America 164, 187, 212, 213. Church 411. STC 22790c.

$300,000