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    Sale 2013

    Important Scientific Books: The Richard Green Library

    17 June 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 248

    MEDINA, Pedro de (1493-1567). Arte de navegar. Valladolid: Francisco Frenandez de Cordova, 1545.

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    MEDINA, Pedro de (1493-1567). Arte de navegar. Valladolid: Francisco Frenandez de Cordova, 1545.

    Eight parts in one, 2o (285 x 203 mm). Collation: A6 b-n8 o6, including final blank. Text in two columns with woodcut border. Title-page and woodcut on f3v printed in red and black, with woodcut royal arms of Spain, section titles to each part, numerous woodcuts in text, including world map on d1r and woodcut map of the Atlantic Ocean with adjacent coasts of North and South America, Europe and Africa on d6r. (Lower outer blank corners of title and colophon leaf replaced, marginal repaired tear on g2, some pale dampstaining.) 17th-century Italian vellum over pasteboard, two chain-holes in upper front cover (covers bowed). Provenance: D. Giasoco (1th-centuty inscription on final blank, possibly an owner's name); anonymous owner, sold Sotheby's London, 22 July 1989, lot 221.

    FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST PRACTICAL TREATISE ON NAVIGATION: WITH THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF THIS MAP OF THE ATLANTIC AND AMERICAS. Pedro de Medina was a cleric who for a time served as librarian to the Duke of Medina-Sidonia. He was asked to prepare charts and other navigation aids by the emperor Charles V and was named cosmografo de honor in 1549. The Arte de navigar is the seminal text on navigation in the sixteenth century, and was one of the three books on navigation carried by Drake (in the 1554 French translation). Sometimes described as a world map, it is actually limited to the countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The map, one of the few printed in Spain in the sixteenth century, is in its first state, as a single block, with sixteen radiating rhumb lines. Medina's knowledge of the New World was first hand, having traveled with Cortés. Later he held the position of debriefing the returning crews from their voyages" (Burden). The map shows the trade routes to and from Spain. The position of ships on the map indicates the outward south-westerly journey and returning journey via the Gulf Stream to the north-east. For the first time, the Papal demarcation line dividing the Americas between Portugal and Spain is illustrated. Central America and the Isthmus of Panama are very accurately delineated, and the Yucatan is correctly shown as a peninsula. The map was reprinted in the first edition of Libro de grandezas... de España (Seville, 1548) with the lower half extended to include the Strait of Magellan. The map was later printed in Martin Cortés's Breve compendio of 1551 and Medina's Regimento de navegacion of 1552.

    The world map appears on fol. 26: it is a small round world map encircled by eight cherubic windheads. Europe, Asia and Africa are shown in detailed and a simplified version of America is shown.

    The present work was translated into German, French, English and Italian, but this original edition in Spanish is of extreme rarity. According to American Book Prices Current, this is the only copy to appear at auction in the last forty years, sold Sotheby's London, 22 July 1989. It was not present in the Frank Streeter sale (which did include the later Regimento de navegacion, Christie's New York, 17 April 2007, lot 359), nor in the Boies Penrose sale in 1971. The only other copy to appear at auction in a half century was that sold Sotheby's London, 7 November 1961.

    Adams M-1024; Alden & Landis 545/19; Bell M273; Borba de Moraes II:47-48; Brunet III:336 and 337; Burden 14; Church 98; Crone 35; Graesse IV:462; JCB (3) I:142; Palau 159664; Sabin 47344; Shirley 84.; Harrisse 266; Medina BHA 123.


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