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One of the Earliest Obtainable World Maps Published in Spain

An excellent example of Hernando De Solis' rare map of the world, published in Valladolid, Spain. This is one of the earliest maps available that was published on the Iberian Peninsula.

De Solis bases his map upon the 1570 world map by Ortelius, with the wording translated to Spanish. It includes that map’s characteristic bulging outline in South America. Only the Straits of Magellan separate South America from the large, unknown southern continent. This was common on maps of the period, as a southern continent was thought likely to be hidden in the Pacific and near the South Pole to balance the continents of the northern hemisphere.

Points on that continent derived from sailors’ stories and observations. Take, for example, the note south of the Cape of Good Hope. It mentions parrots seen by Portuguese sailors. This region, often called Psitacorum regio, appeared on Mercator’s 1541 globe and his 1569 world map.

Further east on the southern continent are several place names: Beach, Lucach, and Maletur. They would be familiar to anyone who has read Marco Polo’s Travels. These three places were regions in Java. As can be seen, a Java menor is near to Maletur. This conflation of Java with the southern continent stemmed from an error. Initially, Polo used Arabic usage of Java Major for Java and Java Minor for Sumatra. After a printing mistake made Java Minor seem the largest island in the world in the 1532 edition of Polo’s Travels (Paris and Basel), mapmakers started to make a landmass to accommodate Java Minor, Beach, Lucach, and Maletur.

An intriguing place name lies in the far northwest of North America. Anian Reino derives from Ania, a Chinese province on a large gulf mentioned in Marco Polo’s travels (ch. 5, book 3). The gulf Polo described was actually the Gulf of Tonkin, but the province’s description was transposed from Vietnam to the northwest coast of North America. The first map to do so was Giacomo Gastaldi’s world map of 1562, followed by Zaltieri and Mercator in 1567. The Strait then became shorthand for a passage to China, i.e. a Northwest Passage. It appeared on maps until the mid-eighteenth century.

Quivira Reino, south of Anian, refers to the Seven Cities of Gold sought by the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541. In 1539, Coronado wandered over what today is Arizona and New Mexico, eventually heading to what is now Kansas to find the supposedly rich city of Quivira. Although he never found the cities or the gold, the name stuck on maps of southwest North America, wandering from east to west.

Both places were en route to a clear Northwest Passage that wends its way north of what is now Canada to Europe. Similarly, there is an open Northeast Passage over Russia. The possibility of a Northwest Passage is an idea that still transfixes geographers today.

While the geography of the map is taken from the first Ortelius world map plate, the strapwork decorative elements are reminiscent of Ortelius' final world map. A feature that differentiates this map, however, are the four continental maps in medallions in the corners.

It is possible that the plate was prepared as early as 1598, as this date appears on a map of America included in the same work in which this map featured, Relaciones universales del mondo, a translation of Botero’s geographical text. However, it is more commonly dated to 1603.

All Spanish maps of the world from the early modern period are very rare. This map, while also rare, is one of the earliest obtainable maps of the world published in Spain. It is also considerably larger than all previous maps of the world produced in Spain.

This is only the second time we have offered the map in over twenty-five years.

Condition Description
Several minor wormholes, expertly repaired on verso.
Shirley, map 242. For earlier Spanish world maps, see ibid, maps 21, 64, 84, 86(A), and 94. KAP