See it Now: Columbus’s Book of Privileges

Columbus's "Book of Privileges." 1502. Manuscript Division.

Columbus’s “Book of Privileges.” 1502. Manuscript Division.

On January 5, 1502, prior to his fourth and final voyage to America, Christopher Columbus gathered several judges and notaries in his home in Seville to authorize the authentic copies of his archival collection of original documents through which Queen Isabella of Castille and her husband, King Ferdinand of Aragon, had granted titles, revenues, powers and privileges to him and his descendants. These 36 documents are popularly called Columbus’s “Book of Privileges.” Four copies of this volume existed in 1502 – three written on vellum and one on paper.

John Herbert, former chief of the Library’s Geography and Maps Division, talks about the book in this video presented in partnership with the History Channel.

The Library’s copy of the “Book of Privileges” – one of the three on vellum – is the only one to contain the Papal Bull Dudum siquidem, the four-page letter that Pope Alexander VI composed on Sept. 26, 1493, which is thought by some scholars to contain the first written reference to a New World.

The papal letter is among the 91 full-size, full-color facsimile pages bound into the Library’s new book, “Christopher Columbus Book of Privileges: The Claiming of a New World,” which also contains the first authorized facsimile of the Library’s copy of the royal charters, writs and grants.

In addition, the pages of the letter have been printed on four loose sheets that are pocketed inside. A translation of the papal bull, which was authenticated in the 1930s, is included.

Levenger Press printed the book in the U.S. to rigorous production standards that include a Smythe-sewn binding and archival-quality paper, both to ensure the book’s longevity. The 184-page hardcover book is available for $89 from the Library of Congress Shop.

The Library debuted “Christopher Columbus Book of Privileges: The Claiming of a New World” at this year’s National Book Festival. A webcast of the presentation is forthcoming.

Poem Dedicated to Library Published as Children’s Book

(The following is a guest post by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.) Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins (2001-2003), creator of the Library’s Poetry 180 website, has just published his first illustrated children’s book with artist Karen Romagna. The book features Collins’ poem “Voyage,” which […]

Library in the News: August 2014 Edition

In August, the Library of Congress was busy with exhibitions and expositions, opening “American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years” on Aug. 14 and hosting the 14th annual National Book Festival on Aug. 30. “At the company’s heart was ballet theater, a physical way of creating a new world onstage,” wrote Sarah Kaufman […]

Pics of the Week: 2014 National Book Festival

Now in its 14th year, the Library of Congress National Book Festival welcomed book lovers to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center — a new venue for this year — on Saturday. More than 100 authors, poets and illustrators were featured throughout the day and evening, packing crowds into pavilions such as History & Biography, […]

The Last Word: E.L. Doctorow

(The following is an article in the July-August 2014 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. Award-winning novelist E.L. Doctorow discusses the role of fiction and storytelling. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)  The story is the most ancient way of knowing. It preceded writing. It is the world’s first system for collecting […]

But Did The Author Like the Movie?

Ever wonder, while watching a film made from a novel you’ve known and loved, what the author of the book thought about that movie? Whether they thought it was true to their vision? Whether they were annoyed at what landed on the cutting-room floor? Four great modern novelists will share a dialogue on just that […]

Slammin’ those Books OPEN!

This year’s Library of Congress National Book Festival is going to segue from a big day of authors for all ages to an evening of excitement – starting with a poetry slam titled “Page [Hearts] Stage” at 6 p.m. in the Poetry & Prose Pavilion. The festival will be held from 10 a.m.–10 p.m. on […]

A Book Festival for the Bird(er)s

David Allen Sibley – yes, the author of the recently updated “Sibley Guide to Birds,” that indispensable handbook on all things feathered – will appear at this year’s National Book Festival, Saturday, August 30 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. In addition to this most highly respected ornithologist, we will also welcome Sally Satel, […]

Stay Up With a Good Book, Too –

The author lineup for the 2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival is growing all the time, building excitement for the free event being held Saturday, August 30 from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Yes, that’s right, a 12-hour day in a new venue, with all the features […]