VEER, Gerrit de (c.1573-after 1598). Diarium nauticum seu vera descriptio trium navigationum admirandarum. Amsterdam: Cornelius [Claesz], 1598.
The first edition in Latin of this major work of 16th century Arctic exploration, describing three voyages under Willem Barentz in search of a Northeast Passage to the Far East. In the latter part of the 16th century the English and the Dutch attempted to discover a northeastern trading route to the Far East by sea. After several failed attempts the English gave up, never reaching further than to Novaya Zemlya (three centuries later a notorious Soviet nuclear test site). De Veer's account describes the three voyages undertaken by Willem Barentsz (c.1550-1597) in the form of an illustrated diary. On the first two of these expeditions Barentsz was accompanied by Jan Huyghens van Linschoten, famed for his voyage to the East. The first voyage of 1594 sailed the length of Novaya Zemlya and then via Vaygach to the Kara Sea. Believing they had found the Northeast Passage, the Dutch set out on a second expedition the following year with ships heavily loaded with trading goods intended for the Chinese, but this trip was thwarted by frozen waters. The third voyage of 1596-97, which takes up most of De Veer's account, is one of the most important in the history of polar exploration. After the discovery of Bear Island and Spitsbergen, Barentsz sailed to Novaya Zemlya, eventually rounding the northern cape. The ship was crushed in ice, and the expedition members were forced to make the first recorded overwintering this far north, surviving in a hut constructed of driftwood. This hut, which features in this works illustrations, was remarkably rediscovered in 1873. It was filled with ice but many artifacts were salvaged for museums. Barentsz died on this third voyage, but the surviving members (including De Veer, who had also participated in the second voyage) managed to reach the Kola Peninsula where they found three Dutch ships which gave them transport home. The illustrations depict the many hardships, including the construction of the camp on the ice, numerous encounters with polar bears, and many other scenes of the expeditions.
De Veer's important account was first published in 1598 in Dutch, with this Latin and the French editions appearing in the same year. The Dutch first edition is practically unobtainable; this first Latin is also very rare with only three copies appearing in the auction records of RBH after 1961. Adams V-316; Alden & Landis 598/113; Chavanne 1755; JCB (3) I:369; Tiele 1130.
Folio (325 x 242mm). 32 engraved illustrations comprising: title-page vignette, 26 half-page scenes of Arctic exploration, a full-page map “Caerte van Nova Zembla” engraved by Baptista a Doetechum, and 4 other maps (some minor toning and marginal soiling, few neat repairs including a reinforcement to blank area on title). Old vellum over boards (soiling, spine and corners rubbed, partially removed shelf label to inside cover, some repairs to endpapers). Provenance: Maggs Bros. and William Reese Co.