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Itinerarium Portugallensium e Lusitania in Indiam et inde in occidentem et demum ad aquilonem.
Folio (266 x 184 mm), 19th-century green morocco, sides with triple-fillets surrounding the central arms of The Signet Society, spine gilt-lettered and -tooled, edges gilt; green quarter morocco folding case. , LXXVIII ( for LXXXVIII) num. leaves. Fullpage woodcut map on title [second issue, reading “Arabicus,” not “Persicus” for the Gulf]. Title and woodcut map inlaid, with one letter on verso retouched in ink.
The first printed collection of voyages and discoveries.
First latin edition of Fracanzano da Montalboddo’s famous compilation and the first printed collection of voyages and discoveries, and one of the most important collections of voyages ever printed. It shows the first large map of africa, the earliest known printed map in which that continent is represented as surrounded by the ocean. The map is orientated with the west at the top of the page. Although the map is rudimentary, it nevertheless shows the result of Vasco da Gama’s journey 1497-99, delineates the mainrivers and a few mountain chains. From the few inscriptions on the map, a Portuguese padrao and the name of the only European town (Lisbona) marked on it, it is evident that it is a composition of Portuguese origin. The present copy contains the rare Index, which ”was apparently printed after the publication of the work, and inserted into the few available copies, so that today it is almost invariably missing” (Jones, Adventures in Americana).
First printed in Italian in Vicenza in 1507 as Paesi novamente retrovati, the work was translated into Latin by the Milanese monk, Archangelo Madrignano, and printed the following year. It contains important accounts of voyages in the Eastern Hemisphereas well as accounts of exploration in the Americas. The most important voyages are :Alvise da Cadamosto’s explorations of the West African coast in 1455 and 1456, which appears here for the first time – as is the account of Pedro Alvares Cabral’s discovery of the Brasilian, Guianaian and Venezuelan coasts in 1500-1501 - Vincente Yanez Pinson discoveries of another part of the Brasilian coast and the Amazon delta - The first three voyages of Columbus, 1492-1500 and the third voyage of Vespucci, 1501-1502 to Brazil (first published here) - Vasco da Gama’s explorations of Africa and India in 1497-99 (first published). «This voyage in the eastern hemisphere is comparable in importance to Colombus’s in the western. It opened the way for the maritime invasion of the east by Europe» (PMM).
The book contains some of the first references to Mecca from modern travellers’ sources. To our particular interest are : - Chapter 56 about the Red Sea and Mecca, deals with the sea and land routes of the spices, the apparition for the first time of Portuguese in India - Chapter 71 describes what is after the mouth of the straits, thePersian Sea with great provinces, several kingdoms under the power of the great Sultan of Babylon, a small island named Gulfal in the middle of the sea, a larger one called Agremus where there are many horses which are valued at a high price and are sent to all India to be sold; it says that there is a great deal of vessels in all these regions, etc. Montalbodo’s Itinerarium Portugallensium is of high importance as it was the first time that the public in Europe had heard about the marvels of the discoveries of the Indies and the New World. It was published in the 16th-century in several editions, and was «the most important vehicle for the dissemination throughout Renaissance Europe of the news of the great discoveries both in the east and the west» (PMM). «This book isnot a jewell, it is a constellation of jewels» (Borba de Moraes).
Provenance : The Society of Writers to the Signet, the oldest legal society in the world (binding).
References : Alden & Landis 508/4 ; Brunet III :474 ; Borba de Moraes I:580 ; Church 27 ; Fumagalli 985; Harrisse 58 ; Hattendorf “The Boundless Deep...” p.111 ; Sabin 50058 (“This book is of excessive rarity”); Streeter Americana Beginnings 3 ; PMM 42 (1507 edition) ; A. E. Nordenskiold, Facsimile-Atlas to the Early History of Cartography, p. 67.