A landmark in the literature of Portuguese expansion in the East

Galvão, António. Tratado dos descobrimentos antigos, e modernos. Feitos até a Era de 1550, com os nomes particulares das pessoas que os fizerao.

Lisbon, Officina Ferreiriana, 1731.

Folio (208 x 280 mm). (16), 100 pp. Title printed in red and black. With woodcut title vignette and full-page woodcut of the author at the end of the preliminaries. Contemporary mottled calf ruled in blind, spine tooled in gilt, red morocco spine label titled in gilt.


The second edition of Galvão's history of exploration and voyages, issued after the virtually unobtainable first edition of 1563. According to Sabin, this second edition "is also rare, the greater portion having been destroyed by an earthquake", specifically the catastrophic Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 (Sabin). Galvão's text was translated in 1601 by Hakluyt, who even at such an early date complained about the rarity of the first edition, and who was forced to rely on a copy sent from Lisbon. Currently, only three copies of the first edition are known in libraries, and none outside of North America.

Born in 1503, Galvão was sent to India in 1527. Having distinguished himself there, he was appointed governor of the Moluccas. He maintained a keen interest in military and religious affairs throughout his career, and spent the latter part of his life assembling accounts of the voyages that comprise this collection. He provides a relatively succinct chronological list of ancient and modern discoveries to the year 1550, including those by Columbus, Cabral, Cortés, and Pizarro. As a result, he is considered by some to have invented a new field of European literature: "The author has been styled 'the founder of historical geography.' The book gives a good summary of the geographical explorations of the Portuguese and other important voyagers, including the English" (Hill).

Though an early hand has attempted to cross it out, the inscription "Ex libris Antónii Lomellino d. Vasconcellos" appears on the title-page along with the handwritten date 1745, and "Lomellino" appears again on the final leaf of text. This is the ownership mark of António Lomellino de Vasconcellos, an 18th century bibliophile who collected particularly books of Portuguese origin. Lightly worn, with a few light crayon marks to the margins of some pages. An uncommon and well-preserved edition of this seminal work.


Sabin 26468. Borba de Moraes 289. Bosch 180. Rodrigues 1059. Palau 182.290. Leclerc 225. Innocencio I, 147, 720. Hill 670. Bibliotheca Americana 642. European Americana 731/89. OCLC 83247823.