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The Final Edition of Linschoten's Monumental Work


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Three letterpress titles [two within elaborate engraved surrounds, the third with engraved vignette], engraved portrait of Linschoten on verso of index leaf, 42 engraved maps, plates and views (including 6 folding maps and 36 engraved plates and views by Johann and Baptiste van Deutecum after Linschoten), 5 of the latter folding, 31 double-page.

An exceptionally fine copy of this important and influential work. This edition is to be preferred over the earlier English edition in that it contains 42 maps and plates as against the English edition's 12.

The Wardington catalogue explains why copies of Linschoten's works are so difficult to find in even reasonable condition, as they were "held in such high esteem that for nearly a century a copy was given to each ship proceeding to India for use as a guide to the sailing directions. The fact that most copies were in continual use is no doubt the reason that so few copies - in any language - remain extant in anything approaching good condition."

This third edition in French of this famous work, with commentaries by B. Paludanus, was reprinted from the second edition in French of 1619. The second and third parts are titled: Le Grand Routier de Mer... Continant une instruction des routes & cours qu'il convient tenir en la Navigation des Indes Orientales, & au voyage de la coste du Bresil, des Antilles, & du Cap de Lopo Gonsalves and Description de l'Amerique & des parties d'icelle, comme de la Nouvelle France, Floride, des Antilles, Iucaya, Cuba, Jamaica, &c. The maps include van Langren's maps of the East Indies and South America (including the Caribbean and Florida), and the double-hemispherical World map of Plancius dated 1594 (Shirley 187).

Linschoten, a Dutchman born in Delft in 1562/3, was in Goa between 1583 and 1589, and with Willem Barentsz on his second voyage to the Kara Sea in 1594-1595. He had an "avaricious thirst for knowledge which enabled him to get detailed information of land and sea as far afield as the Spice Islands and China" (Boies Penrose). This practical experience all lent authenticity to the present work, first published in Dutch (Amsterdam, 1595-1596), and it remains one of the most important of all travel books. It was the most comprehensive account of the East and West Indies available at the beginning of the 17th century.

As well as including important travel accounts taken from contemporary Portuguese, Dutch and Spanish sources, it is the first work to include precise sailing instructions for the Indies and according to Church (and other authorities), 'it was given to each ship sailing from Holland to India.' The third part gives an excellent account of America. An important work that served not only as a valuable record, but also as a catalyst for change in the balance of power amongst European trading nations in the east: "the navigator's vade mecum for the Eastern seas" (Penrose).

When Linschoten returned from Goa to his home in the Netherlands, he did so at a time when the people of northern Europe and particularly his countrymen were especially interested in what he had to report concerning the trading activities of the Portuguese in the East. His most important and far-reaching observations concerned the gradual decline of Portuguese power in the East and her ability to protect her trade routes and monopolies. This, together with the trading possibilities he detailed, encouraged a series of Dutch, French and English fleets to set sail for the Spice Islands and beyond to China and Japan.

Condition Description
Small folio--vellum binding. 3 parts in one volume, folio. Contemporary vellum over pasteboard.  Toning throughout.  Some mostly marginal worming, occasionally touching text or an image.  Mm4 with a large stain.

Provenance: Jesuit College at Brescia (inscription on title); S. Nicolò (bookplate on title verso);  Biblioteca Cameriniana, Piazzola sul Brenta (paper label on spine).
European Americana 638/67; JCB (3) II: 271; Palau 138584; Sabin 4137