A Handsome Example of the First and Only French Edition of one of the Great Illustrated Works of 17th-Century World Exploration. "This French edition is much sought after. The text of Le Maire's journal is much more complete than that in the Latin edition of 1619" (Borba de Moraes).
This important work covers the circumnavigations of Joris van Spilbergen from 1614 to 1618, and, in the latter half of the book, those of Jacob Le Maire and Willem Coneliszoon Schouten from 1615 to 1617. It is profusely illustrated with engraved plates, many of which are cartographic or generally topographical, as well as many of ethnographic and natural historical interest.
Le Maire and Schouten were aboard the vessel Eendracht when it passed through the strait between Tierra del Fuego and Isla de los Estados, establishing that Tierra del Fuego was not connected to the theorized Great Southern Continent (now known as Antarctica). Their voyage westward into the Pacific was a revelation for the Dutch, as it proved that accessing the Spice Islands from the "southwest" route was practicable. While other navigators had successfully sailed into the Pacific many times before, their voyage along a new route carried a different import, as it directly threatened the VOC's monopoly on the East Indies trade. Upon their appearance in Batavia, the center of the Dutch East Indies, they were arrested and the Eendracht was seized. Eventually, they were released and resumed their journey with Joris van Spilbergen who was circumnavigating the globe using the traditional Strait of Magellan. Le Maire sailed aboard Spilbergen's ship Amsterdam but died before reaching home. Spilbergen transcribed Le Maire's account of the first part of the voyage from the former's deathbed, and he included it in the present work. The confiscation of the Eendracht was challenged by Jacob Le Maire's father Isaac, who was eventually successful in his suit in 1622.
Shirley (304) says of the world map at the front of the book:
This world map, considerably larger than that in Schouten's narrative, depicts the separate outwards voyages of Joris and Jacob Le Maire and the return route of Spilbergen from the East Indies during which the young Le Maire's death occurred. Rather curiously, Spilbergen's return voyage is shown terminating in England rather than in the Netherlands. A rectangular panel at the bottom describes in detail Le Maire's discoveries along the northern coast of New Guinea.
Spilbergen's map is on an oval projection which exaggerates the eastwest (and even southerly) line of the Pacific coast of North America. Near Hudson's Bay is the phrase in English (taken from the Hondius world map of 1617) 'The bay wher Hitson did winter'.
The publisher of the 1619 edition was Nicolaes van Geelkercken who may have been responsible for preparing or engraving the map, although no direct evidence of his authorship exists. There was a Dutch-text edition in the same year, and later editions under various titles in 1621, 1646 and 1648 with no changes to the map. An abbreviated account of Spilbergen's voyage was also published very soon after his return in 1617 but this had no general map of the world.
Lathrop Harper, 1970, $985. "A very handsome copy, in an elegant French binding."
Private collection, USA.