• <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Printed & Manuscript Americana<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Extensive archive of papers of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> George Catlin, <i>North American Indian Portfolio,</i> 1844. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> The Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures, Carefully Translated…after the Best Jewish Authorities, Philadelphia, 1853-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Printed & Manuscript Americana<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Wedding book of Eleanor Roosevelt’s bodyguard, Earl Miller, signed by the Roosevelts, 1932. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Textile titled <i>The Resignation of Pres’t Washington,</i> Scotland, circa 1800. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Gideon Welles, Pass for President Lincoln’s White House funeral, 1865. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Confirmation of arms and nobility in favor of the Diez y Mora family, Madrid, 1710. $2,500 to $3,500.
  • <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on paper<br>Thursday 29th September 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> South America.- Conquest of Peru.- Cieza De León (Pedro de). <i>Parte primera de la chronica del Peru,</i> first edition, Seville, Martín de Montesdoca, 1553. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Asia.- Mandeville (Sir John). <i>Tractato bellissimo delle piu maravigliose cose & piu motabile che sitrovino nelle parte delmondo,</i> Florence, [Lorenzo Morgiani], 1496-99. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Bible leaf, Latin. Single leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, [Mainz], [Johann Gutenberg & Johann Fust], [c.1454/55]. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on paper<br>Thursday 29th September 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Publicius (Jacobus). <i>Ars oratoria. Ars epistolandi. Ars memorativa,</i> first edition, Venice, Erhard Ratdolt, 1482. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Biblia Pauperum.- Single leaf from a blockbook Biblia Pauperum in Latin, from the Wiblingen copy of Schreiber's edition III, Netherlands, 1465. £25,000 to £35,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> South America.- Brazil.- Steinmann (Johan Jacob). <i>Souvenirs de Rio de Janeiro,</i> Paris, chez Rittner & Goupil, 1837. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on paper<br>Thursday 29th September 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Asia.- Polo (Marco). <i>In cui si tratta le meravigliose cose del mondo per lui vedute,</i> Venice, Matteo Pagano, 1555. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Sir Joshua Reynolds' copy.- Donne (John). <i>Poems, by J.D. With elegies on the authors death,</i> the Joshua Reynolds-Philip Bliss copy of the first edition, Printed by M[iles]. F[lesher]. for Iohn Marriot, 1633. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Gilbert (William). <i>De Magnete,</i> first edition, Peter Short, 1600. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on paper<br>Thursday 29th September 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Audubon (John James). <i>The Birds of America,</i> 8 vol., New York, George R. Lockwood, [c.1889]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Pratchett (Terry). <i>The Colour of Magic,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1983. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Flaubert (Gustave). <i>Trois Contes,</i> first edition, one of 100 copies on papier de Hollande, Paris, Charpentier, 1877. £5,000 to £7,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2019 Issue

The Amazing Discovery of the Bibliography of Christopher Columbus' Son

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Ferdinand Columbus epitomes ( Arnamagnæan Institute photo).

The discovery of a long lost, presumed destroyed, almost 2,000-page manuscript may well be the greatest bibliographic find of this century. Its finding is somewhat on a parallel with Columbus' discovery of America. Perhaps that is somewhat of an exaggeration, but there is good reason to make this connection.

 

The reason for comparing the discovery of this manuscript created by the greatest book collector of his time, Hernando Colon, to the discovery by Christopher Columbus is simple. Colon was Columbus' son. In English, he is often referred to as Ferdinand Columbus. Colon was a traveler himself, though not quite as far afield as his father. He traveled all over Europe. Colon was also a book and manuscript collector. He has been described as the first "bibliomaniac." Like Sir Thomas Phillipps three centuries later, he wanted to collect every book and manuscript in existence. Fortunately, that was much easier to do in the 16th century than in the 19th century. There were far fewer books yet to amass. Colon managed to accumulate a library of 15,000 items at a time when several hundred books was considered to be a large collection. He dubbed his collection the Biblioteca Hernandina.

 

Colon accompanied his father to the New World on the latter's fourth voyage. After his father's death, he also traveled with his half brother to the New World when his brother was appointed Governor of Hispaniola. However, colonizing new worlds what not his thing. Rather, Colon's calling was that of a scholar. His discoveries were books, manuscripts, and prints. It is known that he traveled all over Europe, collecting books to fill his library. His collecting continued until 1539 when he died. By then, he had amassed the greatest collection of books and paper ever assembled up to the time.

 

What is remarkable about Colon is that he did not stop with simply collecting books. He organized them, catalogued them, and described them. He was truly the first modern librarian. Having inherited a substantial amount of land and income from his father, he not only purchased books, he hired a staff to keep track of them.

 

Along with a listing of purchases, Colon had his staff catalogue his books in four different ways. They created a list of authors, subjects, keywords, and "epitomes." The epitomes are the most interesting part. He had his staff read each book and provide a summary. These range from half a page to many pages in length. What makes these so significant is that some of these books have been lost. The Colon epitomes are the only record of their existence.

 

Fourteen of the 16 volumes of cataloguing created by Colon are now housed in the Biblioteca Colombina in Seville. The other two were long presumed to have been lost.

 

Colon never finished his project. The catalogues were in various stages of completion when he died in 1539. The epitomes at that time covered about 10,000 of his 15,000 items. He wished the project to be continued, and the collection kept together and expanded. However, that did not happen. Disputes over the ownership of his collection prevented it. Eventually, around three-quarters of the collection was dispersed, with the one-quarter still remaining housed in Seville with the 14 volumes of cataloguing.

 

What happened to this set of epitomes after Colon's death was long unknown, although researchers now have been able to trace back much of its history. The reason it was unknown was that various references to it along the way were unclear as to what the book was, likely its significance unclear even to its owners. During the last few centuries it was particularly well-hidden. Why is obvious. It was housed among the books of an Icelandic collection at the University of Copenhagen. An Icelandic collection in Denmark is not a place you would think to look for a bibliography of books owned by the son of Christopher Columbus in Spain.

 

So, how did it get there? Here is what scholars associated with the Arnamagnæan Institute at the University of Copenhagen have concluded. Despite Colon's wish to keep the library together, ownership disputes led to its being torn apart. It was finally turned over to the Cathedral of Seville in 1552, 13 years after Colon's death. By then, half of the volumes had been separated from the collection (half again have since been removed). Either during this time, or somewhat later, this book was separated. It next shows up as being in the collection of Gaspar de Guzman, 1st Duke of Sanlucar (Spain), confirmed by markings in it. A 1627 inventory of that library describes it merely as a large book of 2,330 authors and the books they have written, suggesting the Columbus connection may have already been unknown to its owner. The mention 2,330 authors identifies it as being this book of epitomes.

 

De Guzman lived from 1587-1645. He served as Prime Minister from 1621-1643. The book is next found in the collection of Cornelius Pedersen Lerche. Lerche, who lived from 1615-1681, served two terms as Danish Ambassador to Spain between 1650-1662. He is known to have collected many books and manuscripts while in Spain. Where it was during the time between de Guzman's death and Lerche's ambassadorship is unknown. A portion of Lerche's collection was auctioned off after his death. This auction took place in 1682, and the epitomes show up in its catalogue, with a very brief description that leaves it unidentifiable as Colon's work.

 

It next appears in the Arnamagnæan Collection, prepared after the death of its owner, Árni Magnússon, in 1730. Nothing therein indicates how he obtained it. Magnússon is known to have purchased manuscripts from the Rozencrantz family, who collected Spanish manuscripts in the 17th century, so perhaps they purchased it from the Lerche auction.

 

Árni Magnússon was born in 1663 and raised in Iceland. Iceland was controlled by Denmark at the time. Twenty years later, he went to Denmark to study at the University of Copenhagen. He would eventually become the head librarian there, though he had intervening jobs, including a ten-year return to Iceland working for the government. Magnússon was a manuscript collector, and put together a major collection of primarily Icelandic documents. When he died, he left them to two institutions, one in Iceland, the other the University of Copenhagen. It came to form the Arnamagnæan Collection at the university which has remained there ever since.

 

It is the nature of this collection which helped hide the identity of the Colon epitomes all these years. It is overwhelmingly Icelandic material, with some other Scandinavian items. However, "hidden" within this collection are around twenty Spanish manuscripts Magnússon also collected. The Colon epitomes was particularly hard to identify as it contains no title or description. Indeed, the beginning pages are missing. The number of epitomes runs through number 2,330, but begins midway through item number 140. Earlier listings are missing, and apparently, those pages were separated many centuries ago. There are only around 2,000 of the epitomes present, not 2,190 as you might expect, as some internal pages are also missing. The cover is of no help in identifying it. The binding appears to be one that was used to bind some of the books in the collection around 1770.

 

Any hint of what the manuscript might be remained elusive until 2013. At that time, the library was visited by Guy Lazure, a history professor at the University of Windsor in Canada. He came across it while researching other matters. Professor Lazure suspected there was a Columbus connection, though he did not identify it as a missing volume of Colon's cataloguing. However, this led to further investigations this year by Professor Matthew Driscoll of the University of Copenhagen and Research Associate Kivilcim Yavuz. They contacted Professor Lazure, who thought it might be some sort of "bibliographic tool" from Colon's library. That led to follow-ups with other experts familiar with Colon's library who were able to positively identify it as one of the two missing cataloguing books. After almost 500 years in the dark, this collection of around 2,000 of Fernando Columbus' epitomes has finally been found. There will be much more research done in the years to come.


Posted On: 2019-06-01 20:31
User Name: colophon2

Wilson-Lee, Edward. The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books, Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World's Greatest Library. Scribner, NY, 2019. 401pp. Endpapers: A page from Hernando's main book register, including (at entry 2091) the entry for the Book of Prophecies that Hernando compiled with his father.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions<br>Rare Autograph & Documents<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> John Adams Signed Ship's Passport, partly printed DS as president, signed “John Adams.”
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Extremely Rare James Garfield DS as President Appointing Revenue Service Agent.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Babe Ruth 1939 Cooperstown cover boldly signed — with photo.
    <center><b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions<br>Rare Autograph & Documents<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Incredible Harry S. Truman Kansas City Auto Club sales ledger maintained by Truman!
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Important Herbert Hoover 4 pg ALS about Chinese Gold Mining.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Rare Calvin Coolidge ALS as President.
    <center><b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions<br>Rare Autograph & Documents<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Abraham Lincoln Signed Appointment.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Ironic John Kennedy Jr. Handwritten report on why he is accident report form when he attended Collegiate School in 1975.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Katherine Bates Signed -“America! America! God shed his grace on thee.”
    <center><b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions<br>Rare Autograph & Documents<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Apollo 11 - Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Amassed Over Four Decades, an impressive 1100+ piece collection of entertainment and notables.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Mark Twain / Samuel Clemens Signed Letter and Card.
  • <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> JOYCE, James. <i>Ulysses.</i> London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1937. PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST ENGLISH EDITION PRINTED IN ENGLAND. $50,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [SHACKLETON, Ernest]. –– BROWNING, Robert. <i>Poetical Works of…</i> London: Smith and Elder, 1906. PRESENTED TO SHACKLETON AND THE OFFICERS OF THE NIMROD BY A MEMBER OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York: George R. Lockwood, [1870]. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> ARISTOTLE. Opera, in Greek, parts one and two only: Organon and Natural Philosophy I. Edited by Aldus and others. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1 November 1495–February 1498. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> COOK, James, Capt. [Collected Voyages]. First and Second Voyages: London: W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1773, 1777; Third Voyage: London: H. Hughes for G. Nicol and T. Cadell, 1785. $14,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne (“Mark Twain”). <i>The Writings of…</i> Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1899–1900. $12,000 to $16,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>The Poems of…</i> Edited by Frederick S. Ellis. Hammersmith: William Morris for the Kelmscott Press, 1893. $12,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> LONDON, Jack. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905. PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY LONDON. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> CROWLEY, Aleister (1875–1947). <i>The Winged Beetle.</i> London: privately printed, 1910. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> WILDE, Oscar (“C.3.3.”). <i>The Ballad of Reading Gaol.</i> London: Leonard Smithers, January 1898. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> DRYDEN, John. <i>Fables Ancient and Modern; translated into verse from Homer, Ovid, Boccace, & Chaucer: with original poems.</i> London: John Tonson, 1700. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [MAP]. LINSCHOTEN, Jan Huygen van. <i>Delineatio Orarum Maritimarum…</i> London: John Wolfe, 1598. $3,000 to $4,000.

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