Scarce decorative map of Jan Mayen Island, a volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean.
Coronelli's map of Jan Mayen celebrates its discovery in 1614.
The first known discovery of the island was in 1614. There are claims of earlier discoveries: some historians believe an Irish monk, Brendan, who was known as a good sailor, was close to Jan Mayen in the early sixth century. He came back from one of his voyages and reported he had been close to a black island, which was on fire, and there was a terrible noise in the area. He thought he might have found the entrance to hell.
Jan Mayen was discovered in the summer of 1614, probably within one month, by three separate expeditions. The Dutchman Fopp Gerritsz, while in command of a whaling expedition sent out by the Englishman John Clarke, of Dunkirk, claimed (in 1631) to have discovered the island on June 28 and named it "Isabella". In January the Noordsche Compagnie (Northern Company), modeled on the Dutch East India Company, had been established to support Dutch whaling in the Arctic. Two of its ships, financed by merchants from Amsterdam and Enkhuizen, reached Jan Mayen in July 1614. The captains of these ships-Jan Jacobszoon May van Schellinkhout on the Gouden Cath (Golden Cat) and Jacob de Gouwenaer on the Orangienboom (Orange Tree)-named it Mr. Joris Eylant after the Dutch cartographer Joris Carolus who was on board and mapped the island.
The captains acknowledged that a third Dutch ship, the Cleyn Swaentgen (Little Swan) captained by Jan Jansz Kerckhoff and financed by Noordsche Compagnie shareholders from Delft, had already been at the island when they arrived. They had assumed the latter, who named the island Maurits Eylandt (or Mauritius) after Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, would report their discovery to the States General. However, the Delft merchants had decided to keep the discovery secret and returned in 1615 to hunt for their own profit. The ensuing dispute was only settled in 1617, though both companies were allowed to whale at Jan Mayen in the meantime.
Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1718) is one of the most influential Italian mapmakers and is known especially for his globes and atlases. The son of a tailor, Vincenzo was apprenticed to a xylographer (a wood block engraver) at a young age. At fifteen he became a novice in a Franciscan monastery. At sixteen he published his first book, the first of 140 publications he would write in his lifetime. The order recognized his intellectual ability and saw him educated in Venice and Rome. He earned a doctorate in theology, but also studied astronomy. By the late 1670s, he was working on geography and was commissioned to create a set of globes for the Duke of Parma. These globes were five feet in diameter. The Parma globes led to Coronelli being named theologian to the Duke and receiving a bigger commission, this one from Louis XIV of France. Coronelli moved to Paris for two years to construct the King’s huge globes, which are 12.5 feet in diameter and weigh 2 tons.
The globes for the French King led to a craze for Coronelli’s work and he traveled Europe making globes for the ultra-elite. By 1705, he had returned to Venice. There, he founded the first geographical society, the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti and was named Cosmographer of the Republic of Venice. He died in 1718.