Rare New World Map - With the Woodcut Extension to the Strait of Magellan and Papal Demarcation Line Dividing the Americas Between Portugal and Spain
Rare early Spanish map of America, drawn by a Spanish Navigator with first-hand knowledge of America and who sailed with Cortés.
The first state of the Medina map (published in 1545) is the second earliest printed map of the Americas, preceded only by the Peter Martyr d'Anghiera map of 1511. The present example of Medina's map is the earliest obtainable edition to include the extension of the map to cover the lower half of South America, which had been added to illustrate the Strait of Magellan. The map first appeared in Medina's Arte de Navegar, 1545, but without the woodcut extension. As noted by Burden.
The second appearance of this map was in the first edition of Libro de grandezas de España published in Seville, 1548, with one notable difference. In this edition, and the subsequent one of the same title in 1549 only, there appeared a second woodcut which was printed below the American half of the map and extended its coverage to the Strait of Magellan. To accommodate this the lower border of the left hand side has been removed and is not seen again. There were further editions of the Libro published in Alcala de Henares, 1566 and 1568, issued without this extension - Burden.
Medina's knowledge of the New World was first hand, having travelled with Cortés. Later he held the position of debriefing the returning crews from their voyages. The map depicts the trade routes to and from Spain and her possessions by the use of ships heading south-westerly on the outward bound journey and returning via the Gulf Stream to the north-east.
The Papal demarcation line dividing the Americas between Portugal (the land to its east) and Spain (to its west) runs vividly through the map, illustrating for the first time the future influence that the former was to have over the country we know of as Brazil.
Despite Burden's comment there is another other notable difference between the present version of the map and that from the 1545 Arte de Navegar: the original woodcut for the map has been separated vertically and each hemisphere printed on separate facing leaves (verso of fol. 63 and recto of 64) rather than on a single folio leaf as in the Arte de Navegar.
The map is one of the few such productions printed in Spain in the 16th century. The trade routes between Spain and her New World colonies are subtly illustrated by the position of ships on the outward south-westerly journey, with returning vessels positioned along the Gulf Stream in the northeast. The famous Papal demarcation line dividing the Americas between Portugal and Spain is illustrated. Central America, including the Isthmus of Panama are very accurately depicted, and the Yucatan (labeled Yucata) is correctly shown as a peninsula.
According to the Boise Penrose catalog entry, Medina's Arte de Navegar (Valladolid, 1545) was the first popular work by a Spaniard on practical navigation. He also mentions that Medina was said to have been one of Cortés' captains and that he was entrusted by the crown with the examination of the pilots for the West Indies.
A richly illustrated work on Spain, with an important New World map, and dozens of delightful woodcut views of Spanish cities. A sample of the cities and towns shown in the woodcuts (some elements in the woodcuts are repeated):
- Andaluzia (fol. 35, recto): View of built environment with steeple-topped buildings and city wall; several sailing ships in foreground.
- Villa de Tarifa (fol. 36, verso): Buildings and city wall.
- Medina Sidonia (fol. 40, recto) Castle and other buildings, with animals in the foreground.
- Cadiz (fol. 41, verso): City, wall and ships in foreground.
- Puerto de Santa Maria (fol. 43, verso): City, wall, body of water in foreground.
- Jerez de la Frontera (fol. 44, verso): Castle, wall, river in the foreground.
- San Lucar (fol. 45, verso): Castle, wall and river.
- Rio Guadalquivir (fol. 48, recto): River snaking through landscape with animals.
- Sevilla (fol. 48, verso): Panoramic view of city, with bridge and several human figures, animals amid brush in the foreground.
- Sevilla (fol. 52, verso): Old Sevilla, river in foreground.
- Ecija (fol. 55, verso) Castle and river of Ecija, Andalusia.
- Antequera (fol. 56, verso) Castle
- Large woodcut engraving of a compass (fol. 57, verso)
- Cordoba (fol. 58., verso)
- Jaen (fol. 60, recto)
- Baeca (fol. 60, verso)
- Guadalupe, Extremadura (fol. 74, verso): city, wall and church, with animals and landscapes.
- Merida (fol. 77, recto): walled city, river and animals.
- Avila (fol. 92, recto)
- Salamanca (fol. 96, recto): castle, river, landscape in foreground
- Valencia (fol. 99, recto)
- Leon (fol. 100, recto)
- Nuestra Señora de Monserrat (fol. 169, recto), full page woodcut of Our Lady of Montserrat, and view of Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery and mountains, Catalonia.
States of the Map
First issued in 1545, the "complete" Medina map of America, including the southern portion of South America, appeared in only the 1548 and 1549 editions of Libro de grandezas y cosas memorables de España.
There are two states of the map:
- 1548: The Rio de la Plata is spelled "Rio dla plata" No right neatline. The block appears somewhat broken in two parts and lacks a right neatline in the upper part, with the coast of South America running off the sheet beyond the neatline below.
- 1549: Spelling of Rio de la plata corrected to "RIO DE LA PIATA". Block alignment is fixed and a heavy right neatline is added. with the coast of South America no longer running off the sheet beynond the neatline.
Both states of the map are are rare, with the 1548 essentially unobtainable. The map is not listed in Servies, despite the prominently labeled Florida peninsula on the Nuevo Mundo map. Palau states that he had never seen the 1548 first edition in commerce, and cites a complete copy of this 1549 edition that sold for £15 in 1912 at the Huth sale.
We note several incomplete examples of the 1549 offered in the past 40 years, including an example offered at Sothebys a defective copy of of the book in 1999 which sold for about $12,700.