Skip to product information
1 of 64

Mallet, Beschreibung des gantzen Welt-Kreises, 1719.

Regular price
€14.500,00 EUR
Regular price
Sale price
€14.500,00 EUR



Description of the world with 645 plates


Alain Manesson Mallet (1630-1706).

Beschreibung des gantzen Welt-Kreises, darinnen I. […] V.

Frankfurt, Anton Heinscheidt for Johann Adam Jung, 1719.


5 volumes in 2. 8°. (IX), (VIII), (IV), 263, (1); 276, (24); 170 (22); 519, (1 blank), (XLV), (1 blank); 418, (LXXXIV) pp. = complete with errata leaves.
With 645 plates (618 numbered, 5 frontispieces, 17 portraits, 5 unnumbered or wrongly numbered plates). The main title in vol. 1 erroneously mentions 650 plates. See full index of plates below.

An exceptionally rare complete copy of Alain Manesson Mallet’s “Description of the World.” This remarkable work, here in the second edition of the German translation, provides the reader with a guide to countless places in the world, divided into four parts: Africa, America, Asia, and Europe. This is preceded by an introduction to cosmography and geography. The illustrations show maps, cities, people, and particularities of the places that are described. Some interesting examples of illustrations are a portrait of Inca Emperor Atabalipa, three plates showing West Indies plantations, the Native American Powhatan chief and village of Pomejok, two Samogitians, a map of the Davis Strait, the Dalai Lama, several maps of India and Arabia, the Nile with crocodiles, and much, much more.

The first edition appeared in Paris in 1683 as "Description de l'univers," and soon after, the hundreds of copper plates for the illustrations were transferred to Jan David Zunner in Frankfurt, who published the first edition of the German translation in 1684, with German text engraved in the plates. He then published the second French edition in 1685, with the German text still in the plates. The second German edition that we offer here was also printed in Frankfurt, but 34 years later by Anton Heinscheidt for Johann Adam Jung. They used the same plates again and added portraits of the rulers of that time. By then the plates had become quite worn, so they were re-engraved by at least three German artists: Vogel, W.C. Drucker, and Eggelhoff. Still, the plates have visible wear and the printing was not done very well in some cases due to unclear strikes and plates that were not cleaned properly.

This edition has many more plates than the first German and second French editions printed at Frankfurt (see VD17 39:129237P; 3:306499P). We traced no definitive reference for the total number of plates this edition should have, but we count 645 apparently without any missing. Copies with the same number of plates as the one we offer here are very rarely found. Of the multiple copies that are recorded at auction, all have fewer than 645 plates. The nearest being a copy sold in 1991 by Sotheby’s with 613 plates (for GBP 4,290).


Index of plates in this copy:

Vol. 1: 112 numbered plates + 1 frontispiece + 1 portrait + 1 (87B) = 115

Vol. 2: 133 numbered plates + 1 frontispiece + 3 portraits = 137

Vol. 3: 101 numbered plates + 1 frontispiece + 3 unnumbered plates = 105

Vol. 4: 130 numbered plates + 1 frontispiece + 8 portraits = 139

Vol. 5: 142 numbered plates + 1 frontispiece + 5 portraits + 1 unnumbered plate = 149

Condition: Volume 2: minor worming in blank corners of first few pages. Faded stain in the plate leaves only, probably occurred before binding, predominantly visible on verso. Otherwise the whole in remarkably fresh and clean condition.


1st German: VD17 39:129237P

2nd French: VD17 3:306499P

2nd German : VD18 11031883

Alden-Landis 719/104 (Vol. V); Phillips 4280; cf. Borba de Moraes II, 511 and Sabin 44130 (first French edition).

Mireille Pastoureau, Les atlas Français XVIe-XVIIe siècles, Manneson Mallet IA, p. 309-322.


Contact us to make reservation