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Stock# 93009

The Highly Sought-After Linschoten Itinerarium in Original Hand-Color.

A handsome, albeit incomplete, example of Linschoten's Itinerario, one of the most important travel books of the late 16th and early 17th century, in fine contemporary binding and hand-coloring.

Jan Huyghen van Linschoten (1563-1611) was perhaps the greatest world traveler of his age. His adventures from 1576 to 1592 in Iberia, Africa, and India, became the stuff of legend, and more than any other figure he was responsible for opening the young Dutch Republic to global trade and exploration. Following these voyages, Linschoten sought and obtained a ten-year privilege to publish his Intinerario (travel book) and Reysgeschrift, as well as his translation from Spanish of Acosta's standard reference work on the Americas, the Historia natural y moral de las Indias.

The Itinerario was compiled in the context of the fervent Dutch desire to break the monopoly that the Portuguese had held on to East Indies trade throughout the 16th century. It was a summary of what had, until that point, been the most closely guarded secrets of the economic rivals of the Netherlands. The information brought back and disseminated by Linschoten laid the groundwork for the Houtman voyage of 1595-98 and the foundation of the Dutch East India Company (VOC).

The Itinerario contained Linschoten's own account of his travels, along with information about the natural history and ethnography of Asia. The second part contained an overview of the income of the Spanish crown. The third part, the Reys-gheschrift, contained translations of Spanish and Portuguese roteiros related to the East Indies and the transit to them.

Linschoten became acquainted with the Amsterdam publisher Cornelis Claesz upon his return from his earlier voyages. Claesz was avidly pursuing and publishing maps and travel accounts that could be of use to Dutch seafarers, and he and Linschoten began a partnership surrounding the Itinerario. On March 14, 1594, Linschoten signed an agreement with Claesz "to print and sell to mutual benefit a certain book on navigation to the East Indies with images pertaining thereto, as described by Jan Huygen, aforementioned." A few months after signing the contract with Claesz, Linschoten accompanied Willem Barentsz on his first voyage to the Arctic in search of the Northeast Passage.

It seems that Claesz and Linschoten were at odds over the extent of the Itinerario and the inclusion of certain information about the Barentsz voyages. Schilder (MCN VII, page 203) comments on this issue:

Jan Huygen van Linschoten's Itinerario was one of the most impressive works to be published at the end of the sixteenth century. Doubtlessly, it was also one of the most prestigious projects that Cornelis Claesz had ever undertaken in the course of his publishing career. Nonetheless, probably around 1598, the warm relations between the two men cooled down when Cornelis Claesz decided to publish Gerrit de Veer's accounts of the three polar voyages. Their parting of ways also shows up in a deviation from the original plan to publish the Itinerario along with a translation of De Acosta's standard work on the West Indies. As it turned out, the latter was not published by Cornelis Claesz but by an Enkhuizen publisher, Jacob Lenaerts Meyn, in 1598. Claesz added insult to injury by including a summary of De Veer's account in the Latin translation of the Itinerario in 1599. Van Linschoten's report of his own northern travels did not appear for two years to come, when it was published in Franeker by Gerard Ketel. Despite this sordid turn of events, Cornelis Claesz continued to make use of the joint privilege to publish the Itinerario, once again bringing out the complete Dutch edition in 1604/05.

To accompany the summary of De Veer's journal, Claesz retained the extremely talented Van Doetecum family to create a large map of the arctic. This map is lacking in the present example, but a discussion of it elucidates the publication history. Two editions of the Linschoten Itinerario were published with the inclusion of Willem Barentsz's famous map, the 1599 Claesz and the 1614 Walschaert. The book itself was basically unchanged in those 15 years, however, much transpired with its publishers in that time. Cornelis Claesz, the publisher of the 1599 Itinerarium died in 1609. He had a considerable inventory of copperplates and remaining stock from his publishing business, which his widow, Catharina Garbrantszdr, liquidated in a series of sales. The plates for the Itinerario were purchased by Linschoten for 1400 guilders, as he intended to issue the work on his own account, perhaps as a way of righting the wrong supposedly perpetrated by Claesz in 1598/99. To this end, Linschoten secured a privilege from the States-General on July 30, 1610, but shortly thereafter, on February 8, 1611, he died at the age of 48.  As Linschoten had barely started to pay Claesz's widow for the plates, he died still owing her 900 guilders. The debt was settled with the return of the plates to Garbrantszdr, who then apparently worked with Hans (Johannem) Walscaert, a former employee of Claesz, to publish the present edition. Walscheart assisted Grabrantszdr with a number of tasks related to monetizing the Claesz estate in the aftermath of his employer's death. After this edition was published, the plates were sold to Jan Evertsz Cloppenburg, who published the subsequent editions, without the Barentsz map.

With the exception of modification of the imprint line on the first title page (though, not the second), and possibly the preface, the 1614 Walschaert edition is essentially identical to the 1599. Indeed, it may have been published from text stock that was printed in 1599, as the text settings have not been altered at all.

The Barentsz Linschoten is arguably the most important and most complete format of the Itinerario, reflecting a short-lived but fascinating period in which the Dutch entertained any and all means for circumventing the Portuguese hold on the East Indies. With the confirmed success of the Houtman Voyage and the failure of others to find a practicable Northeast Passage (namely Henry Hudson on behalf of the VOC in 1609), the Barentsz voyages faded from view, and the map was not published in subsequent Linschoten editions.


This edition was apparently unknown to Schilder upon the publication of MCN VII, as he refers to the 1614 Cloppenburg edition as the only from that year and did not know that the Barentsz appeared in the 1614 edition as well as the 1599. 

Sabin 41367 say of it:

We have not seen this edition, which is in the possession of Mr. James Lenox, but, with the exception of the title and preface, it does not differ from the first Latin version of 1599.

Interestingly, most records for the 1614 Walschaert collate the book at 124 pages, or [4] leaves and 124 pages. Perhaps Walschaert ran out of leaves for the second part of the book early, or loose cataloging could be to blame.

The John Carter Brown Library provides the most authoritative collation:

Abridged translation of: Itinerario, voyage ofte schipvaert van Jan Huygen van Linschoten naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien, first printed in Amsterdam, 1595 [i.e. 1596]; Latin translation first published in The Hague, 1599; these are the same sheets, except for p. 1-2 and 7-8, 1st count./ "Beschryvinghe van de gantsche custe", 45, [3] p., 3rd and 4th count, has separate dated title page with imprint: The Hague: Albert Henricszoon, 1599 [i.e. 1614]./ Signatures: *⁴ A-I⁶ K⁸ 2A⁸ 2B⁶ 2C⁴ 2D⁶/ Fifty-eight of the leaves of plates constitute 29 double plates, 1 is a folded plate. The maps are all folded, and 3 of the plans are folded; 4 of the leaves of plates constitute 2 double plans.


This example lacks the world map by Plancius, the maps of Southeast and Southwest Africa, and the plans of Goa and Angra. The Barentsz Arctic map, which is often lacking, is likewise not present.

Condition Description
Incomplete. Quarto. Contemporary calf, covers with central gilt arabesques, spine in six compartments separated by raised bands, gilt-lettered title piece in the second "LINSCHO | TEN | NAVIGAT | ORIENTAL". (Worn. Spine laid down at head and foot.) 2 title vignettes of a sailing ship, engraved coat-of-arms, full-page portrait, 7 (of 13) engraved maps and plans (2 of which double-page, the rest folding) and 35 (1 folding) engraved plates all of which in full contemporary hand-color. [8], 124, 45, [3] pages. (Extensive early ink manuscript annotations. Many of the plates ruled in iron gall ink, in a few cases causing paper degradation and breakage. Some of the figures with early juvenile graffiti in ink. Occasional small losses and minor damage to the plates, as illustrated. But for its losses and small defects, this would have been a superlative copy of a foundational rarity.)