Afonso de Albuquerque's conquest of the Molucca Islands

Argensola, Bartolome Leonardo de. Conquista de las islas Malucas.

[Madrid, Alonso Martin, 1609].

Small folio (222 x 296 mm). (12), 407 (but: 411; 316-319 numbered twice), (1) pp. Engraved figurative title (lower border cropped with loss of imprint, as common). 18th century red gilt morocco, boards with richly gilt floral décor, gilt edges of covers, richly gilt spine in seven compartments with raised bands, black title label, speckled edges. Marbled endpapers. In modern custom-made chemise of auburn cloth and a cloth case with spine in red morocco and five raised bands, title in gold.


First edition of the author's principal work, very rare, especially with the engraved title. The book mostly discusses the Philippines and the Moluccas, but also deals with China, Java, Sumatra, and Ceylon, with references to "los estrechos Persico y Arabico" (p. 12). The Portuguese naval commander Afonso de Albuquerque had conquered Malacca in the early 16th century, several decades after Arab merchants had introduced Islam to the islands.

"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). "Very lucidly and elegantly written" (cf. Ebert). "Copies with the engraved title are rare, and still more difficult to find are copies in which the printer's name and date of printing are preserved at its bottom" (cf. Salvá). "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).

Boards somewhat worn and rubbed, a few spots, some small cracks in the joints, slight defects at head and foot of spine, but altogether a beautifully preserved copy. Final leaf laid down, some small, inconspicuously repaired wormholes near headlines. Some occasional foxing and browning; pages 65-68 with a remargined flaw at the edge (no loss to text). Provenance: Engraved bookplate of Jeremiah Hill (early 18th century). Later in the famous library of Sir Thomas Phillips (1792-1872, with shelfmark and inscription "MHC" in pencil). Sold at Sotheby's June 23, 1988 for £3,800 (lot 110); latterly in the private collection of the Swedish antiquarian bookdealer Björn Löwendahl (1941-2013).

Palau 16089. Cat. Nederl. Scheepv. Mus. 494. Cox I, 284. Brunet I, 419. Ebert 994. Graesse I, 193. Griffin/Ph. 23. Penney 304. Maggs (Spanish Books) 54a. Pardo de Tavera 121. Reiss & Auvermann 40 (Travel & Exploration) 408. Sabin 1946. Salvá 3349.