The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club (1963)

{Ed. Note: This review was first published in April of 2012, and is being republished today in recognition of Columbus Day.}

Let me introduce you to yet another underrated and undervalued book from the Limited Editions Club (LEC).  The LEC’s 1963 edition of The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus can be inexplicably found for under $100 in fine or near fine condition. It is a large scale book, with excellent and numerous illustrations, very reading-friendly type, plenty of maps and is simply an interesting ‘history’ to read, minus today’s mushy-headed PC-isms that seem to turn many readings of Columbus into a caricature of a genocidal maniac. The cover design is rather plain, though the black embossed portrait medallion is a unique and nice touch.

The book contains many illustrations by Portuguese artist Lima de Freitas (1927–1998), the coloring of which was hand applied. As you will see below, the illustrations reflect both classic and modern elements, somehow woven into a whole that almost perfectly represents the time period of the Journals themselves. Freitas illustrated over 100 books in his career, including three other LEC books, Joseph Conrad‘s Nostromo (the illustrations of which are simply brilliant), William Prescott‘s The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic and Washington Irving‘s Alhambra.

The translation is by Samuel Eliot Morison (1887-1976). Morison, a Rear Admiral in the United States Naval Reserve, taught at Harvard for forty years after receiving his Ph.D. there in 1912. He was a well respected historian known for his works in maritime history. He won two Pulitzer Prizes (including one for a biography of Christopher Columbus), the Legion of Merit, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) made four voyages across the Atlantic, from which he is generally considered the ‘Founder’ of America. His discovery led to Spanish colonization of the America’s, quickly followed by that from the other European powers. His first voyage, famously in the Santa Maria, Nina and Pinta, first found land in what is now the Bahamas. On this first voyage, he also landed and explored in what is now Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Later voyages led to other lands in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Columbus never saw nor landed on what is now North America. To his death, Columbus always believed he had reached the East Indies, as opposed to having discovered a new continent, unknown to the Europeans.

About the Edition

  • Translated and edited by Samuel Eliot Morison
  • Illustrated with graffiti by Lima de Freitas in black and white and color, the color hand applied at the Walter Fischer Studio
  • Maps by Rafael Palacios
  • Designed by Lewis White
  • Connecticut Printers of Hartford
  • Full dark blue buckram, black leather gold-stamped label and black embossed portrait medallion
  • Endpaper maps
  • 436 pages
  • Limited to 1500 copies, signed by Lima de Freitas

Pictures of the LEC Edition

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The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Slipcase Spine
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Book in Slipcase
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Spine Macro View
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Front Cover
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Front Cover Macro View
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Endpaper Maps
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Title Page
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Title Page Macro View
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Contents
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, List of Maps
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #1
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #2
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Sample Text #2
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #3 with Text
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #4 with Text
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #5
The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club, Colophon

One thought on “The Life and Journals of Christopher Columbus, Limited Editions Club (1963)

  1. I just missed out on going on the fourth voyage. I was late getting up that day, and Chris left without me. Anyway, he didn’t get to Antigua as he had promised. So now I’ll have to read the book to catch up with what happened;

    I have read Nostromo twice: once in Heritage Press and then the LEC. It is my favorite Conrad.

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