Book of Marco Polo

Book of Marco Polo

Antwerp (Belgium) — 1485

The crucial source of information about China for centuries: Christopher Columbus' personal copy of Marco Polo's famous travelogue

  1. This Italian edition of Marco Polo's famous travelogue was owned by Christopher Columbus (1451–1506)

  2. The definitive source of information about China, its geography, and its culture for centuries

  3. It relates Polo's time at the court of Kublai Khan (1215–94) and his travels in service of the Khan of Khans

Book of Marco Polo

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  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Book of Marco Polo

The famous Book of the Wonders of the World by Marco Polo is one of the most famous travelogues in history. The description of his stay in central Asia in the years 1271–1295 was the definitive source of information about China, its geography, and its culture. This account also inspired many great explorers on their own travels into unknown regions of the world. Thus, Christopher Columbus inter alia owned the Italian edition of this famous book by Marco Polo from the year 1485, which is provided with personal notes and marginal notations by the great discoverer of America. A unique opportunity to simultaneously get to know the great character of world history and the famous Livre des merveilles du monde des Marco Polo!

Book of Marco Polo

The famous Book of the Wonders of the World by Marco Polo is one of the most famous travelogues in history. The description of his stay in central Asia in the years 1271–1295 was the definitive source of information about China, its geography, and its culture. This account also inspired many great explorers on their own travels into unknown regions of the world. Thus, Christopher Columbus inter alia owned the Italian edition of this famous book by Marco Polo from the year 1485, which is provided with personal notes and marginal notations by the great discoverer of America. A unique opportunity to simultaneously get to know the great character of world history and the famous Livre des merveilles du monde des Marco Polo!

A Venetian Merchant’s Son in China

Marco Polo (1253–1324) is considered to be the most famous traveler of the Middle Ages up to this day. The Livre des merveilles du monde or Book of Wonders of the World is a travelogue of his residency in central Asia from 1271–1295. As a 17-year-old, Marco Polo, the son of an important Venetian merchant, came together with his father and an uncle to the court of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan in Peking. There the young Venetian abode as a high envoy and trusted friend of the Kahn’s and toured for years through modern China, Vietnam, and Myanmar.

A True Story or the Work of a Swindler?

Marco Polo dictated his experiences to a fellow prisoner named Rustichello da Pisa while in Genoese prison after a sea battle. This detailed account enjoyed great fame and wide dissemination. The account was not taken seriously by Marco Polo’s contemporaries and was derided as a tall tale. To some contemporary people these probably seemed to be fantastical because of the unbelievable tales and descriptions of thestrange and exotic world. One the other hand, Marco Polo – the author of the tale – did not spare any praise for himself regarding the content of the book, as the following first sentence of the account makes clear: “No man, be he heathen, Christian, or Saracen, has seen so many and such dangerous things since the creation of Adam as the alluded-to Marco Polo.”

A Groundbreaking Work of World History

The Livre des merveilles du monde is transmitted today in numerous manuscripts and was also printed from 1477 onward. Additionally, the travelogue enjoyed translations into many languages, Italian among them under the title of Il Milione. Thus the travelogue of Marco Polo remained the most important source about China up to the 16th century. Appreciation of the work has also changed over time. Among others, Christopher Columbus used to the work for his voyages of exploration, and also Alexander von Humboldt paid the highest respect to Marco Polo for his travelogue!

The Guidepost of Christopher Columbus

This personal edition of the Wonders of the World of Christopher Columbus is one of the most precious treasures of the famous Biblioteca Colombina in Seville, which is based on the acquisitions and property of the sons of Christopher Columbus. The printed book with 148 pages from a 1485 edition is furnished with annotations and notes from the hand of this significant explorer. Columbus relied on the geographical information of Marco Polo inter alia for his expeditions. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that this small book accompanied him on his famous voyages of discovery!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Libro de Marco Polo
Buch von Marco Polo
Libro de las Maravillas del Mundo
Libro de las Maravillas de Marco Polo
Marco Polo's Book of Marvels
Size / Format
148 pages / 20.0 × 15.0 cm
Origin
Belgium
Date
1485
Style
Content
The Travels of Marco Polo with notes from the hand of Christopher Columbus
Previous Owners
Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
Ferdinand Columbus (1488-1539)

Available facsimile editions:
Book of Marco Polo – Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina (Seville, Spain)
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1986
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro de Marco Polo

Book of Marco Polo – Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina (Seville, Spain)
Book of Marco Polo – Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina (Seville, Spain) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1986
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Goatskin with blind embossing
Commentary: 1 volume (472 pages) by Juan Gil Fernández of Seville
Languages: English, Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
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