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The Beginning of the Myth -- First Printed Map To Show the Island of California

The first printed map of California as an island, issued in the same year as the title page to Le Maire's Spieghel Spieghel der Australische Navigatie . . . , published in 1622. Both of these works were published by Michiel Colijn in Amsterdam in 1622.

Among the theories suggested for the mapping of California as an island is the theory that Jacob Le Maire may have been the Dutch Mariner who took a map of California from a Spanish Vessel in 1620, which is referenced in Diderot's Encyclopedie (1770) and other sources as the basis for the insular California myth. Dora Polk notes that publisher Colijn used a map showing California as an island on the title page of both Le Maire's journal and the French and atin editions of Herrera y Tordesillas, unfortunately without explanation.

The map intercepted is believed to be one that accompanied Ascencions's Relacion Breve of 1620, which is now lost. The printed description of the island appears to match the writings of Ascencion. The map shows California in what would become known as the Briggs model. While it cannot be known with certainty why Colijn depicted California as an island, it is beyond question that these two title pages illustrations are the first depiction of the island on a printed map.

The map is quite scarce on the market. This is only the second example we have offered in more than 20 years.