1558 : Illustrated Myths and Legends of the North

Olaus Magnus

Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus.

Sic in epitomen redacta, ut non minus clare quam breviter quicquid apud Septentrionales scitu dignum est, complectatur.

First Abridged Edition Of utmost rarity.


1558 . Antwerp, Christopher Plantin. (8), 192 lvs. (Collation: a8, A-2A8)

Rare First Edition of the abridged version including 135 fine woodcut illustrations in the text by Arnaud Nicolai. From the 125 first copies with original paginations error.

19th century marbled binding. Interior complete and in good condition. The title page was repaired as well as the last few leaves.

Very rare first edition of the abridged version of this curious work of Olaus Magnus on northern folklore depicting myths, legends and monsters. The third book is focusing on Witchraft , and an other curious part is dedicated to sea monsters. The work first appeared in 1555 in a larger format and was then reedited in 1558 into this shorter version edited by Cornelius Graphaeus.

Olaus Magnus, a Swedish Bishop (1490-1557), had in his youth travelled through the whole of Scandinavia. During a stay at Rome the Lutheran Reformation got the upper hand in Sweden, and he never returned to his country. As Plantin explains in his dedication to Viglius, dated Antwerp, 13 June 1558) ), a learned friend had presented him with this shortened version of the Roman edition, which he judged to be of interest for publication. In the second edition (Antwerp, J. Bellerus, 1562), Graphaeus' name was mentioned for the first time. For the present edition Plantin used a whole set of newly cut woodblocks, probably made after the 1555-edition, but in a style and with a charm of their own. Rather primitively but very lively cut, the woodcuts vividly illustrate the way of life in Northern Europe. It was one of the first woodcut illustrated books published by Christopher Plantin, who worked at Antwerp between 1555 and 1589. From the Plantin Archives is known that 125 copies were shipped to Martin le Jeune in Paris, on June 6, 1558. Another 700 copies figure on a long list of books for export, either to Paris or Frankfurt. After the first shipment to Paris, the rather faulty pagination was twice corrected. Our copy belongs to the first issue with all original errors in the pagination, probably restricted to the first 125 copies, directly shipped to France. The work is still today a valuable repertory of much curious information regarding Scandinavian customs and folklore.





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