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The Beginning of the Myth -- The Second Map To Show the Island of California

Beautiful engraved title page for the 1623 German-language edition of Herrera, published as the twelfth part of Theodore de Bry's Grand Voyages.

This title page follows the one that was published in the 1622 Amsterdam editions of Herrera, widely regarded as the first printed maps of California as an island, by just a year. Mclaughlin calls this the third state of the 1st title page map (and first overall) of California as and island, in fact, it is a newly-engraved copperplate. This makes it the second printed map to show California as an island.

The 1623 title page is a much more involved composition than that of the 1622, with the additions of inset medallion busts of Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespuci, as well as the figures of Magellan and Pizarro flanking the map. The whole image is surmounted by the coat of arms of Castile. Two the left and right of the title block are engravings of the Aztec gods.

The 1622 edition of Hererra was important because it included the first account of Le Maire's voyage. It is possible that Jacob Le Maire was the Dutch mariner of legend who took the famous map showing California as an island from a Spanish vessel in 1620.

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 Latin editions of Herrera y Tordesillas, unfortunately without explanation.

The intercepted map of legend 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.

Henry Briggs apparently saw a Dutch map of the Americas in London in 1622, and on that map, California was shown as and island.

This is a foundational map for any collector of California as an island, being only the second printed map to show the myth.

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

Burden 200; McLaughlin Title Pages 1.3.
Theodor De Bry Biography

Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) was a prominent Flemish engraver and publisher best known for his engravings of the New World. Born in Liege, de Bry hailed from the portion of Flanders then controlled by Spain. The de Brys were a family of jewelers and engravers, and young Theodor was trained in those artisanal trades.

As a Lutheran, however, his life and livelihood was threatened when the Spanish Inquisition cracked down on non-Catholics. De Bry was banished and his goods seized in 1570. He fled to Strasbourg, where he studied under the Huguenot engraver Etienne Delaune. He also traveled to Antwerp, London, and Frankfurt, where he settled with his family.

In 1590, de Bry began to publish his Les Grands Voyages, which would eventually stretch to thirty volumes released by de Bry and his two sons. The volumes contained not only important engraved images of the New World, the first many had seen of the geographic novelties, but also several important maps. He also published a collection focus on India Orientalis. Les Grands Voyages was published in German, Latin, French, and English, extending de Bry’s fame and his view of the New World.