Two rare travel accounts of Constantinople and the Ottoman Empire, with an appendix on the Arnheim's return from Batavia

Somer, Jan. Johann Sommers See- und Land-Reyß nach der Levante, das ist nach Italien, Candia, Cypern, Rhodis Egypten, Syrien, Gelobten Lande, Constantinopel und von dar wider durch Ungarn, Italien und Teutschland nach Mittelburg nach Hauß [...].

Frankfurt, Johann Frantz for Wilhelm Serlin, 1664.

4to. (8), 200 pp. With 8 engraved plates (some with touches of colour, two folded).

(Bound with) II: Wenner, Adam. Türckisches Reisebuch von Prag aus biß gen Constantinopel [...]. Nuremberg, Johann Andreas Endter & Wolfgang Endter's heirs, 1665. (8), 135, (5) pp. Title printed in red and black. Contemporary full vellum with handwritten title to spine.


Exceedingly rare Mediterranean travelogue: one of two German editions published in the same year (the other, an entirely different translation, by Cunradus in Amsterdam; the Nuremberg edition cited by several bibliographies is fictitious). Dutch editions had previously appeared in 1649 (the first) and in 1661. Although the Amsterdam-published German edition dates the journey to 1640-42, the Dutch first edition as well as the present translation make it clear that it had taken place as early as 1590-92! Somer's voyage began inauspiciously - he was captured by a Turkish galley in the harbour of Famagusta and briefly enslaved, but was soon set free after the French consul at Alexandria intervened for him. In spite of this episode, he travelled the Ottoman Empire at a time of relative peace (the Long Turkish War with the Habsburgs would not break out until 1593), spending several months in Egypt, Constantinople and Palestine. His colourful account includes a description of desert sandstorms and the trade in Egyptian mummies (not all of them ancient) as well as extensive chapters on Constantinople, the Ottoman court, the ubiquitous baths, Turkish customs and manners, the Muslim faith, curses and magic, etc. Somer returned via then-Ottoman Greece and Hungary, which he also describes. An appendix (pp. 170ff.) contains A. Stockram's topical account of the voyage of the Dutch ship Arnheim, which foundered off Mauritius on the return from Batavia. The translation is credited to "Philemerus Irenicus Elisius" (i.e., Martin Meyer). Rare; the last copy in auction records sold in 1983 (Erasmushaus, an incomplete reissue with only 5 views).

Bound after this is the second edition of A. Wenner's narrative of the Imperial embassy to the Porte in 1616-18, to ratify the Treaty of Zsitvatorok. Wenner served as secretary to the embassy; his "book is a day-to-day account of the journey to Constantinople from Prague, and includes a list of all the entourage from nobles to the apothecary, goldsmith, musicians, tailors, cooks, and so on. A list of presents for the sultan, with their values, is also given" (Atabey). The Treaty of Zsitvatorok "was a landmark in Turkish-European diplomatic relations, when the Turks first began to observe the general principles and courtesies of international law, and to exchange special ambassadors on an equal footing with European nations" (Blackmer).

Some browning throughout due to paper, more pronounced in Somer's work, the title-page of which shows an unobtrusive tear in the upper edge. Contemporary handwritten ownership "Bocken" to recto of flyleaf; verso has stamp and 1978 ownership of the Viennese collector Werner Habel (1939-2015).

I: VD 17, 23:231760C. Tobler 86. Röhricht p. 217, no. 820. Paulitschke 532; Ternaux-Compans, Bibliothèque asiatique et africaine, 1977 (both have "Nuremberg" in error for Frankfurt). Cf. Weber II, 216 (Amsterdam German ed.); Kat d. Scheepvart Mus. I, 254f. (Dutch eds.). Not in Atabey, Blackmer, Aboussouan, Howgego, Henze, Cox, or Chauvin.

II: VD 17, 23:234557B. Cf. Atabey 1326; Blackmer 1783; Brunet VI.2, 435 (all for the 1622 first edition). Not in Röhricht, Tobler, Aboussouan or Brunet.

Stock Code: BN#48813 Tags: , , ,