London, for William Crooke, 1684-1685,4 parts bound in one volume,4to (240 x 185 mm),contemporary polished calf, morocco title-piece, rebacked, with 8 engraved views and portraits, large folding map,and numerous maps and plans in volume two after Bartholomew Sharp.
Second English Edition of Exquemelin with the scarce fourth part by Basil Ringrose describing the Voyages of Captain Bartholomew Sharp. The primary contemporary source in English for the History of the English and French Buccaneers, or more politely “privateers” who harassed and attacked the Spanish colonies chiefly in the Caribbean during the seventeenth century. Exquemelin’s account of the adventures, life, morals, looting, plundering, and taking prisoners for ransom or slavery of the pirates roaming the seas in the later part of the seventeenth century, together with a full description of the Caribbean where they mainly operated. Our prevailing image of the pirate is based on the buccaneer, or filibuster, active in the West Indies in the later 17th century. The story of Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin is the earliest first-hand account on these pirates, written by just such a one of these reluctant desperadoes, from which all others seem to spring.
Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin (1646-1717), called Oexmelin by the French, was long considered to be a Dutchman, as the first edition of his seminal and now extremely rare book De Americaensche Zee-Roovers (The Buccaneers of America) published in Amsterdam 1678 was in Dutch. But Exquemelin was born in 1646, at the Northern French port of Honfleur, descending from Huguenot apothecaries. He started his eventful life as a chemist before spending several years with the pirates as a ship’s surgeon. He took part in their daring exploits, like the expeditions of the notorious English buccaneer Henry Morgan, one of the most famous names in the annals of piracy (called John in the book), including his raid on Maracaibo in 1669, or a year later his attack on Panama. By 1674 Exquemelin had joined the Dutch Navy, serving with De Ruyter’s fleet in the wars against the French. Following the Admiral’s death in 1667 he returned to Amsterdam,was granted citizenship and gained his qualification as a ship surgeon in October 1679.
During his time in Amsterdam he offered his manuscript containing the description of his previous life to the publisher’s Ten Hoorn, who translated it, adapted it to Dutch standards and printed it in 1678. The book became immediately so popular that editions were published everywhere. Hardly any book in any language became the parent of so many imitations and the source of so many legends, and is still popular today. Jan ten Hoorn also had published the works of Hendrik Smeeks (probably one of the sources of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe). Both publications were heavily edited by ten Hoorn, explaining the similarities of style, so that once is was believed that Exquemelin was a pseudonym of Smeets.The book quickly took on a life of its own, with numerous editions appearing throughout Europe in the following years, many of them fittingly ‘pirated’, including the Second Edition of 1679, in German, published in Nuremburg under the title Die Americanischen See-Raüber. A Spanish Edition followed in 1681, titled Piratas de la America; this too was probably published in Amsterdam and not Germany as the title-page claims. The first English edition, aptly published by one William Crook, appeared in 1684 under the title Bucaniers of America: Or, a True Account of the Most Remarkable Assaults Committed of late Years upon the Coasts of The West-Indies…. with a heavy emphasis on the ‘unparallel’d Exploits of Sir Henry Morgan, the English Jamaican Hero’. The book was a runaway bestseller and the second edition came out within three months.
Exquemelin set sail in 1681 aboard the ‘San Jeroboam’ bound for Jamaica. He set up as a surgeon on San Domingo in the Spanish West Indies. Exquemelin became tired of this, and when in 1683 the Spanish tried to capture the slaver ‘Martha en Maria’ of Ostend, commanded by the notorious buccaneer Van Hoorn, Exquemelin once more took to sea as the surgeon of a flotilla of pirates, including Laurens de Graaf and the French filibuster Grammont. Making contact with the French Vice-Admiral Jean d’Estrès, he was granted the post of surgeon in the flagship; and returned to Brest with the Squadron after eighteen years’ wanderings in 1684.
The author had throughout all these adventures kept his original manuscript that was published by the Paris printing house of Jacques le Febvre in a first French edition in 1686, titled Histoire des Avonturiers qui se sont signalez dans les Indes. It is marginally less rare than the Dutch one, and being produced in two volumes it contains much additional material, especially botanical descriptions.Managing to return to France in 1687 to find his book a roaring success, he brought out a second edition, but the next sighting reveals him taking part in a French attack on Cartageña in Columbia in 1697. Accepted in his native land at last, Exquemelin spent his final years recording all his experiences since 1678, and these became the third French edition of his book, published in 1699 as Histoire des Avanturiers Flibustiers. His book remained a bestseller in France, growing to four volumes over new editions in the years 1744, 1774 and 1775 . These editions contain material not by Exquemelin, including:- (Vol. 3) Raveneau de Lussan’s tales of his Pacific buccaneers, in which the Scot Alexander Selkirk who is generally regarded as the model for Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and- (Vol. 4) The elusive Captain Johnson’s book published in 1728 and 1728 combined historic fact with such luminaries of pirate folklore as Captains Avery, Kidd and Tew, Black Sam Bellamy, and the female filibusters Mary Read and Anne Bonny.
Sabin 23478; Church 658 (first Dutch ed. of 1678), and 689 (Engl. ed. of 1684 and 1685); Hill 99-100 (English ed. of 1684 and 1685); Bibl. Diez 1044.