Venice: Giovanni Battista Ciotti, 1599. ,79 leaves, with thirty-two in-text engravings, including five maps. Small quarto. Contemporary limp vellum, manuscript spine title. A few patches of light staining to vellum, slight biopredation at lower corners. 20th-century bookplates in front endpapers. Light foxing to titlepage, light dust soiling and few stray ink marks throughout. A very good copy, overall. Item #WRCAM54233
The first edition in Italian, published the year after the Dutch and Latin editions, of a classic collection of three Dutch northern voyages during 1594-97 led by William Barents. Two issues of Giunio Parisio’s translation were printed the same year, the present one by Giovanni Ciotti and the other by Porro. Veer's narrative of shipwreck off Nova Zembla and a terrible winter, in which a number of the crew froze to death and many others were eaten by polar bears, is a remarkable narrative of heroism in exploration. The fine engravings are reduced versions of the illustrations in the first edition. During the first voyage of 1594, the coast of Nova Zembla was successfully explored right up to its most northern point. The second voyage of 1595 proved a failure when pack ice blocked the passage of the ships between the Straits of Vaigatz and the mainland as late as the summer months, the result of an especially harsh Arctic winter. The third voyage, of 1596-97, which takes up the greater part of the volume, ranks as one of the greatest in the history of polar exploration. The expedition sailed in a northerly direction, discovering Bear Island and Spitzbergen. Unable to proceed further north because of pack ice, Barents changed to an easterly course, finally cruising the northern tip of Nova Zembla where his ship was wrecked by ice. It was at this point that the expedition achieved the first recorded overwintering in the polar region. The engravings illustrate the construction of the camp literally on the ice, fights with bears, and all manner of hardship. The survivors escaped the Arctic in June 1597 by sailing down the coast of Nova Zembla in two open boats, and crossing the White Sea en route to Lapland, a voyage of some 1600 miles. EUROPEAN AMERICANA 599/91. JCB (3) I:377. EDIT 16, 59013. USTC 862191.