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Alexander von Humboldt


Sixteenth Century

Seventeenth Century

Some Eighteenth Century Histrorians

Alexander von Humboldt

Revolution & Independence

Rediscovering Mexican Antiquity

Emergence of Mexico




Alexander von Humboldt, I

Humboldt, Alexander, von, 1769-1859.
Vue des Cordelleres et Monumens des Peuples Indigene de l’Amerique.

Paris: F. Schoell, 1810.  Original full red morocco.

Alexander von Humboldt, the leading German scientist and explorer of his age, was already well-known as a geologist before he sailed for Spanish America in 1799 with his French collaborator Aime Bonpland. On his return to Paris in 1804, he and Bonpland published a 23-volume series covering physical geography, natural history, and ethnography, usually titled after its first volume Voyage aux régions equinoxiales du nouveax continent (Paris: Schoell, 1805-34). In part because each sub-series was differently titled, most library sets are incomplete, and this first "Atlas" volume of illustrative plates, though badly in need of professional conservation, is especially rare. [This volume is currently being covered and no image is yet available.]


Alexander von Humboldt, II

Humboldt, Alexander von, 1769-1859; Williams, Helen Maria, 1762-1827, transl. Researches concerning the institutions & monuments of the ancient inhabitants of America, with descriptions & views of some of the most striking scenes in the Cordilleras! 2 vols.
London: Longman, 1814. 

This English translation of the text from Humboldt's opening volume attests to the widespread influence of his work in his own time. The poet, novelist, and enthusiast for the French revolution Helen Maria Williams had published a poem titled Peru in 1784, though she is now best known for her volumes of Letters about French politics (1790 etc.).

Alexander von Humboldt, III

Humboldt, Alexander von, 1769-1859; Black, John, 1783-1855, transl. Political essay on the kingdom of New Spain. 2 vols.
New York: Riley, 1811. Contemporary calf.

The third volume in Humboldt's series was his Essai politique (Paris, 1810), an argument based on demographic and statistical data for the overhaul of Mexican political structures. The prefatory letter to the King of Spain is dated March 1808, before Miguel Hidalgo's "Grito de Dolores" initiated the first Mexican revolution in September 1810.

Aztec Costume from the Time of Montezuma: Humboldt, IV

"Costumes dessines des Peintres Mexicains du Temps de Montezuma," from Humboldt, Vue des Cordelleres.
Paris: Schoell, 1810.

Though less extensive and well-known than those in Kingsborough's Antiquities, the illustrations in Humboldt's atlas volume also included drawings made from the pre-Columbian codices. This detached page from the South Carolina College copy of the Humboldt atlas indicates why the volume will shortly be sent for professional restoration. [This volume is currently being covered and no image is yet available.]

This page updated May 12, 2008
by the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections,
and copyright © 2003, the University of South Carolina.

Special Collections and Rare Books
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