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De Insulis nuper in mari Indico repertis.

Also known as the Christopher Columbus Letter.
"Insula Hyspana."

Jay I. Kislak Collection. Miami Lakes, Florida.

Jay I. Kislak is a private collector of rare books, manuscripts, maps, and pre-Colombian art. The collection is part of the Jay I. Kislak Foundation and is located in the Kislak Corporation headquarters. A public gallery and library facility encourage scholarly use. Compiled over the course of more than thirty years, the collection focuses on early exploration and discoveries in the New World and the "circum-Caribbean" region. The collection contains Incunabula, Mexicana, Floridiana, manuscripts and maps.

Carlo Verardi. Historiam Baeticam. [Basel:] I[ohann] B[ergmann, de Olpe], 1494. With De Insulis nuper in mari Indico repertis. Also known as the Christopher Columbus Letter.

Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colon) drafted a short official letter describing his 1492 discoveries as his ship approached Spain on the return voyage in early 1493. This now famous letter was quickly published and printed in Spanish at Barcelona, with a single copy known to survive. The letter was also translated into Latin and reprinted in Rome. The first illustrated edition appeared in Basel, Switzerland, also in 1493.

The edition on display is a 1494 version of the Basel publication. Entitled, De Insulis nuper in mari Indio repertis, the epistle is printed on eight leaves following the first document in the volume, a prose piece by Verardi on Ferdinand's 1492 capture of Granada from the Moors. The frontispiece is a portrait of Ferdinand of Aragon, and the four other woodcuts purport to illustrate the voyage of Columbus. These illustrations, among the very first to depict the New World, are the work of artisans who never saw those distant lands.

The illustration Insula Hyspana, or Columbus Landfall at Hispaniola, is printed as the title page of the Columbus letter. The image is that of the discoverer landing on what the Arawak Indians called Guanahani, now Haiti. This landing followed an exploration of the Bahamas Islands and a voyage that skirted the coast of Cuba. Although the Indians are depicted unclothed, as Europeans would most naturally expect them to appear, the ship is incorrectly represented with giant oars on each side.

Columbus named the islands and people he encountered on his voyage in the name of the Spanish Crown. Another illustration depicts the five new-found islands of Fernada, Isabella, Hyspana, Salvatorie and Concepto Marie. A slightly more realistic ship is portrayed, along with a fortress, then unknown to the New World.

Antonio Del Rio. Description of the Ruins of an Ancient City, discovered near Palenque, in the Kingdom of Guatemala: translated from the original manuscript report of Captain Don Antonio del Rio: Followed by Teatro critico americano; or, A critical investigation and research into the history of the Americans, by Doctor Paul Felix Cabrera, of the City of New Guatemala. London: Published by Henry Berthoud... and Suttaby, Evance and Fox..., 1822.

Ricardo Almendariz.
Coleccion de Estampas Copiadas...
Drawing in pen and ink with grey wash.

Ricardo Almendariz. Coleccion de Estampas Copiadas de las Figuras Originales, que de Medio, y Baxo Relieve, Se Manifiestan, en Estucos y Piedras, en Varios Edificios de la Poblacion Antigua Nuevamente Descubierta en las Immediaciones del Pueblo Del Palenque... Drawings in pen and ink with gray wash.

The ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque, located in the state of Chiapas near the Gulf of Mexico, were first reported to the Spanish Government in 1773. In 1786, a royal order was issued to have the site thoroughly excavated and described. Artillery Captain Antonio Del Rio was appointed to carry out this mission. Del Rio hired Guatemalan draftsman Ricardo Almendariz, who produced thirty sketches of the magnificent sculptured reliefs at the ruins in 1787. The random digging performed under Del Rio's direction, and the unfortunate destruction of many sculptures, was followed by the shipment of many relics to Spain, as documented in his report.

The Del Rio report lay unrecognized for thirty-five years. An English edition was published under the title Description of the Ruins of an Ancient City, Discovered Near Palenque, in the Kingdom of Guatemala... London, 1822. The text included additional commentary by Guatemalan doctor P.F. Cabrera. Some seventeen of the Almendariz drawings were selected for inclusion in this published report. The lithographer, who added his own enhancements to the drawings, was Jean Frederic Waldeck of Paris. Waldeck's doubts that the drawings were authentic eventually led him to travel to Palenque and to embark on his own publishing venture.

In the 1940s a set of the Almendariz drawings, along with the Del Rio manuscript, was located in the Madrid Archives. These drawings, however, were copies commissioned by Charles III in 1789, two years after the expedition. In 1935, anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn suggested that Waldeck had worked from originals created by Guillermo Dupaix's artist, Casteneda, presumably made in 1807. Dupaix had been sent to Mexico by Charles IV to survey the antiquities of Mexico. He led the first official expedition since the 1787 Del Rio expedition. Antiquities Mexicaines, the official report of Dupaix's 1805, 1806, and 1807 expeditions, was published in Paris in 1834. One volume contained 166 lithographs by his artist, Luciano Castenada. Dupaix was the first to publish views of Mayan architecture including the site of Palenque, which he explored in 1807. The Dupaix and Del Rio published illustrations are striking in their similarity, with identical inaccuracies. Dr. Lee Allen Parsons, Curator for the Kislak Collection and the author of Columbus to Catherwood, 1494 - 1844: 350 Years of Historic Book Graphics, concludes that both sets were done in the field by different observers.

A Mayan "Codex" Vessel. Peten, Guatemala, Late Classic, ca. 550 - 950 A.D.

This dynastic vessel rests on low tripod feet and is covered with sixty glyphs painted in black and red. The vessel contains twelve clauses of a four and five glyph sequence that names the accession order of twelve rulers. Each clause includes a reddened day sign, the month of a calendar round date, the "holding of God K," a ruler's name, and an emblem or patron sign. This long glyphic text is part of a group of dynastic vases relating the genealogy of rulers in a specific ritual sequence.

The vessel has a height of 6 and 1/8 inches (15.5 cm.). A roll-out photograph of the vessel may be examined in The Maya Book of the Dead, Thai Ceramic Codex, by Francis Robicsek and Donald M. Hales, Charlottesville, 1981.

Theophilus Wreg. The Virginia Almanack for the Year of Our Lord God 1762. Being the Second After Bissextile, or Leap-Year. Wherein are Contained the Lunations, Conjunctions, Eclipses; the Sun and Moon's Rising and Setting; the Rising, Setting and Southing, of Heavenly Bodies; Weather; &c. Calculated According to Art; and referred to the Horizon of 38 Degrees North Latitude, and a Meridian of Five Hours Weft from the City of London; Fitting Virginia, Maryland, North-Carolina, &c. --Also a Table of Court Days; Description of the Roads through the Continent; with a List of the Council and House of Burgesses of Virginia: To Which is Added, a Collection of Maxims, entertaining Epigrams, curious Anecdotes, diverting Stories, &c. &c. &c. Calculated for Instruction and Amusement. By Theophilus Wreg. Philom... Williamsburg: Printed and Sold by Joseph Royle, and Co. [n.d.] With: a manuscript diary, January - December, [1762], by George Washington.

George Washington Diary. The diaries of George Washington enjoy a well-traveled and occasionally mysterious history. Certain diaries were given away by his nephew, Bushrod Washington, while others possess a questionable or unknown provenance. The United States government acquired thirty-six diaries with the purchase of the Washington papers in 1834 and 1849. Two diaries published prior to the Civil War have since disappeared, others are known to exist only in printed form, and a small quantity remains in private hands.

Washington diaries exist over sporadic periods prior to 1760, including a trip to Barbados, 1751-52, and for a portion of his service during the French and Indian War. Although a consecutive diary record begins in 1760, regular entries are not initiated until 1767. Military obligations, including service as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, soon interfered with maintenance of a complete diary. The burden of presidential duties and public life created similar impediments to regular diary entries, and the record remains spotty through Washington's later years.

Beginning in the year 1759, Washington maintained his diary in the blank pages of the Virginia Almanack... a practice he continued until 1775. Evidence suggests that Washington recorded initial thoughts and comments on loose papers or in other books. At a later period, sometimes days later, he recorded these notes into a permanent diary. This practice allowed the writer to edit text, and to accidentally omit words and transpose dates. The diaries comprise a remarkable historical record, with every-day notations of activities, events, and individuals.

Washington recorded with equal care the weight of his hogs, the status of his crops, the work of his slaves, the visits of his friends, the financial gains and losses encountered in the marketplace, and similar observations. Frequent references to the weather are present, as one would expect, for Washington's agricultural activities relied heavily upon the cooperation of Mother Nature. Other notations illuminate Washington as a businessman, homeowner, and outdoorsman.

For all their value, however, the diaries are perhaps most notable for what is absent. The entries are without emotion. The words provide no personal insight, no glimpse of feelings, no reflections upon the swirl of local, national, or international events that would soon catapult Washington to the leadership of a new nation. There is no reason for surprise, however, for to provide such insight would be out of character for a man who once said to King Louis Philippe, "I have never said anything or written anything that I care to recall, nor ever done anything that I regretted." A sample entry for the month of May reads:

3. Wm. Daingerfield's Negro Bricklayer Guy came here to work.-
4. Finished planting corn...
11. Sold my sheep as follows...
11. Put 31 hides in Soak for Tanning-
20. Guy Began ye Garden Walk, after having built an Oven ye Kitchen, laid the hearth, & repaird the back.
Do. Bought 5 cows & calves...