This first edition, early Americana engraving is from Arnoldus Montanus’s De Nieuwe en Onbekende Weereld (Dutch) or The New and Unknown World (English). The work was published in Amsterdam in 1671 by Jacob Meurs. This being a first edition work is important as the impressions from the plates are strongest in this issue.
The work is “a classic book on America and is much sought after by collectors of Americana” (Borba de Moraes). It contains one of the first views of New York: “without any doubt, the handsomest, and the most agreeable view of Dutch New York (Asher’s Bibliographical Essay, p.23). The work was done at the height of European fascination with the New World. It featured illustrations of customs, festivals, occupations, religious rites and battles of the native Indians. It is considered one of the most interesting iconographic and cartographic sources of early Americana.
Arnoldus Montanus was a Dutch writer, Protestant minister, and headmaster of a Latin School in Schoonhoven. He also published works on church history, theology, the Low Countries, and the people and culture of the Americas. Montanus never actually travelled to the New World, and thus the work has numerous errors and artistic liberties based upon the European perception of the people and animals of the Americas. It still served as the standard work on the Americas for years to come.
The North American section contains notable versions of the Blaeu map of New England and New Netherlands as well as versions of the John Smith Virginia and Carolina maps. It also contains one of the first engraved views of New York (the very first, the Van der Donck view, appeared twenty years earlier). There is also a detailed map of Bermuda, views in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Brazil. The work is also noted for its portrait of Jan Maurits, Prince of Nassau.
The full English title of the work is The New and Unknown World: or Description of America and the Southland, Containing the Origin of the Americans and South-landers, remarkable voyages thither, Quality of the Shores, Islands, Cities, Fortresses, Towns, Temples, Mountains, Sources, Rivers, Houses, the nature of Beasts, Trees, Plants and foreign Crops, Religion and Manners, Miraculous Occurrences, Old and New Wars: Adorned with Illustrations drawn from the life in America, and described by Arnoldus Montanus.