The First English Map of South America
Rare English edition of Jan Huygen van Linschoten's spectacular map of South America, the Caribbean, Florida and the Gulf Coast, along with a marvelous treatment of the unknown southern continent, engraved in London by Robert Beckit, for John Wolfe's English edition of Linschoten's Itinerario, first published in 1598.
An extraordinary map of South America, the Caribbean islands, and Florida, shown on a horizontal axis. This is one of the most striking and decorative maps of South America and is an important early record of the continent. The map is oriented with north to the right and includes Florida and the Gulf Coast (over 20 place names shown), and the Caribbean. The Straits of Magellan are depicted, with Terra del Fuego shown as a part of the great southern landmass. The coastlines are well defined and densely engraved with place names while the interior is filled with fictional mountains, rivers and vignettes of Patagonian giants, Brazilian cannibals and numerous strange animals including a lion-like creature with a striped tail and human face. Other embellishments include large elaborate cartouches, sea monsters, galleons and a beautiful compass rose.
Wolfe's edition of the map is relatively similar to the original, although Wolfe adds a new title cartouche in English and some new mountains along the Gulf Coast of North America which do not appear on Linschoten's map.
Linschoten was "one of the pathfinders for the first Dutch voyages to the East" (Schilder, p. 195). He was in the service of the Portuguese as Secretary to the Portuguese Archbishop of Goa in India from 1583 to 1589. Here, he had access to many Portuguese portolans as well as other valuable commercial information, especially as Goa at this time was the commercial and political center for the Portugal Empire in the East. Van Linschoten left Goa for home in January 1589. On the way to Portugal, his ship was pursued by an English fleet and lost its cargo in a storm while anchored off the Azores. After the loss of the cargo, Van Linschoten was persuaded to stay and help recover it; he spent two years on Tercera, working and preparing his notes from Goa. Van Linschoten eventually arrived in Lisbon early in 1592, and then sailed home to The Netherlands. His account of his experiences is one of the most important travel works of the period.
The English edition is a great rarity, this being the first example we have offered for sale.