Having become Cristobal Colon, he seeks protectors in Portugal and Spain without giving up his extravagant demands. In 1492 the treasurer of the house of Castile cleverly observes that the expected gain is much greater than the investment and Queen Isabella accepts the project.
The successful trip and return of two of the three ships of Columbus's fleet across the Atlantic Ocean, from August 3, 1492 to March 4, 1493, was an unprecedented feat in which the officers had to calm the sailors, panic-stricken after losing sight of the land. Six inhabited lands had been discovered and Columbus correctly recognized that all of them were islands.
Columbus writes a letter which is not at all an account of the many adventures of the trip but a resolutely appealing report intended to encourage the financing of a second and even more ambitious expedition. The natives from then named Indians are shy and easy to satisfy although it is recommended to be wary against some cannibals. There will be no obstacle to the exploitation of gold and spices.
Probably prepared in Spanish by Columbus himself, the letter was published in Barcelona in March or April 1493. Translated into Latin, it was published in Rome around May of the same year. The first illustrated edition, not located and undated, is named the first Basel edition because it anticipates the more ambitious edition realized in that city with the same woodcuts in 1494.
The Basel editions confirm the political purpose of the letter. Four naive images illustrate the life on the islands and sketch their map beside a glorious portrait of King Ferdinand and the coat of arms of Spain, reinforcing the information of Columbus's allegiance to the Reyes Catolicos against the claims of recuperation by Portugal.
Bound in the 19th century in the follow of another text to the glory of King Ferdinand, a highly rare complete copy of the second edition of Basel is estimated $ 700K for sale by Bonhams in New York on September 26, lot 2. This book had passed at Nate D. Sanders Auctions on January 26, 2017.
Nearly ten years later Amerigo Vespucci will finally have the intuition that the islands and coasts discovered on the other side of the Atlantic were not the Indies but a New World.
SOLD for $ 750K including premium