The De Orbe Novo Collection: Exploration in the New World 1492-1625 for Bloomsbury Auction

Bloomsbury Auctions is pleased to announce a significant sale that offers the rarest Americana. This collection of just 82 lots contains accounts of European explorers in the New World, all of which were printed prior to 1625. This collection of books and charts from Bruce McKinney ranks as one of the finest in private hands.

To be sold by auction on Thursday 3rd December at 10:30am at 6 West 48th Street New York NY 10036-1902

Collecting in this field really began to advance in the late 19th century when historical research into America’s roots began to flower, in part inspired by the 1892 anniversary of the Columbus landing in the New World. Most of the great 19th and early 20th century book collectors Morgan, Hoe and Huntington considered early Americana to be the central pillar of book collecting in America. At that time as a collector you probably had the choice of many copies, but after WWII this rarely has been possible. For an individual starting to collect in the 1990s and to be able to accrue over 80 major books of that period is a considerable feat and this collection from Bruce Mc Kinney is truly remarkable. As he said “It was a challenge, there are only about 200 items that could fit the definition of Europeans in the New World before 1630, but one would have to have almost unlimited time and money to find them all. I have about half that and that’s an achievement worth sharing.”

To collect the published accounts of these European Voyages and Explorations has always been an expensive occupation, the books are all generally rare, most not appearing on the open market more than two times in any decade, and some less often than that. Bruce McKinney had the courage and finances over the last 20 years to create the collection we are offering on December 3rd at Bloomsbury, New York. He had the interest and attention to detail to search out some spectacular rarities, many hidden in the back rooms of the old post war generation of dealers such as H. P. Kraus, men for whom this field had once been one of their staple dealing areas.
Many of those who made risky crossings across the Atlantic in the 16th and early 17th centuries to explore the New World, will be familiar names, such as Columbus, Cortes, Champlain, Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake. Others in the collection, such as the great cartographer Ptolemy, might be less familiar, but all the titles in this collection are distinguished by their rarity and the importance of their content; both in text and illustrations provided readers of this works with primary accounts of the East Indies, New Spain, New France and New England.

Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635)
Les Voyages du Sieur de Champlain
Paris, 1613. First Edition. The Siebert copy.
Estimate: $250,000-350,000
A wonderful example is Samuel de Champlain’s Les Voyages (Paris: 1613), containing numerous views of the earliest settlements in French North America, depictions of Iroquois and Algonquin natives and extraordinarily accurate maps of the Eastern coast, including Cape Cod, visited by Champlain years before the Puritans arrived. While everyone might recognize Lake Champlain, few now remember that the explorer it was named after, made an astonishing 27 trips from Europe, without losing a ship, founded Quebec, encouraged French migration to Canada and established friendly ties with many of the local Indian tribes. But in addition, he meticulously recorded his endeavors, was an artistic cartographer, botanist and pioneering ethnographer. It is a key work in early American studies and rare to find at all, let alone in acceptable condition and in a contemporary binding. (Est. $250,000-350,000).

Such a fine single owner sale can only take place when a collector pursues his passion with vision and knowledge. Bruce McKinney began collecting at the age of 10 years, grew away from it and returned when a dealer remarked that European-Americana was at the time undervalued. What also appealed to the McKinney was that a truly representative collection could be formed within historic boundaries and the scope and scale of the historic importance of the material could be displayed if one were truly successful as a collector.

The De Orbe Novo Collection: Exploration of the New World 1492-1625 will be available for viewing in New York on Monday, November 30th, Tuesday, December 1st, and Wednesday, December 2nd from 9:00am to 5:00pm and by private appointment.