Antiquarian Auctions

SA Auction #107 ends in

US Auction #16 begins on 02 Aug 2023

Peter Kolbe


Behelzende een zeer omstandig Verhaal van den tegenwoordigen toestant van dat vermaarde Gewest, deszelfs Gelegenheit, Haven, Sterkte, Regerings-vorm, Uitgestrekheit, en onlangs ontdekte aanleggende Landen etc. etc.

Published: Balthazar Lakeman, Amsterdam, 1727

Edition: Dutch

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Reserve: $3,500

Estimate: $4000 - 4500

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Endpapers + ii(blank) + Half title + ‘Verklaring der Titelprint + Engraved Frontispiece + Title Page +ii(’Copy der Privilegie) + Author’s Engraved Portrait + ii (Voorrede van der Schryver) + ii (Nodig Bericht) + ii (Korte Inhoud) + iv (Namen Der Heeren/Intekenaars) + 529pp (Eerste Deel) + Title Page + ii (Korte Inhoud) + 449pp (Twede Deel) + 87pp (Register) + ii(blank) + Endpapers

Dutch (and best) edition, narrow margins, two parts bound in one volume. Contemporary full velum binding with 7 raised bands to spine. Gilt titles (with misspelling of ‘Kaep’ for ‘Kaap’ in tan morroco compartment, with ‘I.II. Deel’ in gilt to compartment directly below. Embossed and tooled boards. Boards and spine with soiling as expected – internally clean save for a few faint dampstains which do not encroach into the text or plates and are limited to a few leaves at a time. Remarkably clean, unfoxed and sturdy.

All of the engraved plates and maps present. Tears in center fold and closed tears around edges of map: ‘Nieuwe Caarte van Kaap de Goede Hoop E’nt Zuyderdeel van Africa’.
Bookplate of Maurice Green to f.f.e.p.

A very good copy indeed, with only minor faults.

Peter Kolbe (Sometimes Kolb or Kolben) was sent to the Cape to make astronomical observations and study its physical features and natural history. Little progress was made and his relations with the authorities deteriorated when he sided with the colonists in their grievances against Governor van der Stel. None the less he collected much information about  he colony, and particularly about the local Khoi. Though his stipend ended, he remained at the Cape. In February 1710 the authorities threatened to deport him unless he started paying axes and doing burgher duty; as a result he accepted an appointment by the Dutch East India Company in 1711 as secretary to the Court of the Landrost at Stellenbosch.

Here he continued collecting information, until failing eyesight led to his discharge and forced him to return to Europe in April 1713. He does not seem to have travelled into the interior beyond Stellenbosch, but did visit the warm baths at "Black Hill" (near present Caledon).
Though Kolbe had no training or special interest in natural history, his book contains the first published lists of the Cape fauna, with a number of illustrations. The lists of mammals, birds, reptiles, land invertebrates, fishes and other sea animals are quite extensive, but his brief descriptions contain little specific or new information. None the less they were of considerable interest at the time. Kolbe's memory is perpetuated in the popular name of the Cape or Kolbe's vulture. He also lists some 400 species of trees and other plants, having learnt something about the subject from J. Hartog, the Dutch East India Company's gardener, but his list is largely based on existing manuscripts and books.

After the first German edition (1719), this Dutch edition was published in 1727, an abridged English translation was published in 1731, and a French edition in 1741. It was the most comprehensive description of the Cape to date, and remained very influential for several decades despite criticism of the accuracy and originality of its information by F. le Vaillant, N.L. de la Caille, A. Sparrman and others.

The Dutch edition devotes 45 pages to mammals, 22 to birds, 24 to fishes, and 20 pages to snakes, insects and other animals.
(Source: Biographical Database of Southern African Science)

  • Binding Condition: Very Good
  • Overall Condition: Very Good
  • Size: 4to, 35.5cm x 22.5cm
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