Milano: Dalla Tipografia di Giovanni Silvestri... 1811. ,98,pp., errata leaf, plus two folding sheets comprised of seven maps and a folding plan with three views. Half title. Tall quarto. Original limp paper- covered boards. Boards scuffed and slightly stained, small paper labels on each cover. Previous owner's library bookplate on front pastedown, light occasional foxing. Internally a fine, crisp copy. Item #WRCAM54302
The second and best edition of this interesting work. Lada-Mocarski lists this edition rather than the first (Milan, 1810) as the preferable one. It is the supposed narrative of a voyage through the Polar Sea and the mythical Straits of Anian to the west coast of America in 1588, performed by Laurent Ferrer Maldonado. In 1609, Maldonado presented a document to Philip III entitled RELACION DEL DESCUBRIMIENTO DEL ESTRECHO DE ANIAN, in which he promoted a fabricated northern passageway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which he called the Strait of Anian. He even included falsified reports with details on the terrain, flora, fauna, and encounters with humans during his voyage.
Manuscript copies of Maldonado's report circulated over the next two centuries, with copies surfacing in 1781 in the library of the Duque de Infantado and again in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. The Ambrosian librarian, Carlo Amoretti, believed in the authenticity of the narrative and saw it into print, later publishing a lengthy defense of Maldonado's claims. Skeptics quickly attacked the work, and by the mid- 19th century it had been established as spurious by further discovery, especially the earlier voyages of Malaspina and Vancouver, but at the time of publication it caused a lively debate and fueled further interest in northwest exploration. In fact, as late as 1818, John Barrow hedged his bets on the validity of Maldonado's assertions, and included the account in his epic collection of Arctic voyages.
The first map included here, which takes up an entire folding sheet, traces Maldonado's supposed route through the polar region. The other six maps are contained on a single sheet and depict various points in the polar regions. The folding plan contains three topographical views of the Straits of Anian. "The views were designed by Maldonado to illustrate what he claimed were the landmarks of the strait, the location of the port and the place where he proposed to build fortifications. Amoretti also inserted some maps to show what the Strait of Anian looked like according to other authors, and a modern polar map on which he marked the course of Maldonado to Bering Strait, which he thus seemed to identify as Maldonado's Strait of Anian. The text is substantially the same as that of the document belonging to the Duque de Infantando. The work is interesting because of Amoretti's cartographical history of the Strait of Anian and the later Russian voyages" - Wagner.
Though an apocryphal voyage, Maldonado's work informed and energized generations of northwest and Arctic explorers, and helped fix the gaze of explorers on discoveries such as the Bering Strait and the Northwest Passage. HOWES F95. LADA-MOCARSKI 66. WICKERSHAM 6644. LANDE 20. SABIN 44109. HILL 597. HOWGEGO, IMAGINARY VOYAGES AND INVENTED WORLDS M10. Henry R. Wagner, "Apocryphal Voyages to the Northwest Coast of America" in PROCEEDINGS OF THE AMERICAN ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY, Vol. 41, Part I, April 1931, pp.179-234.