Exquisita & magno aliquot mensium peridulo histrata et iam retecta Freti Magellanici Facies.
By: Gerard Mercator
Date: 1610 (circa) Amsterdam
Dimensions: 13.75 x 18.5 inches (34.9 x 47 cm)
This map of the Straits of Magellan by Gerard Mercator is the earliest to appear in a commercial atlas, and predates the discovery of the Straits of Le Maire by six years. Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten discovered the strait in 1616, while seeking a navigable link between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and shortly before their discovery of Cape Horn. The strait was subsequently named in honor of Le Maire.
The map is oriented with south at the top, and depicts the narrow Straits with land masses on either side. Within the Strait approximately 20 place names are identified, along with 30-40 soundings. The southern land mass is called Terra del Fuego, and the opposite is identified as Americae pars. In addition to six sailing ships and a splendid sea creature, there is a vignette of what appears to be a family of sea otters.
The map features a splendid compass rose from which rhumb lines issue, and three large strapwork cartouches, one of which includes a profile view of the entrance to the Strait. The ornate compass rose points downward, indicating north at the bottom of the map. Tierra del Fuego’s coastline changes from charted known lands to conjecture, becoming part of the vast unknown southern continent.
This important map is one of the most famous of all regional American maps, coming at the time of exploration of the Americas and the search for water routes from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is one of the most sought after of Mercator’s atlas maps.
Condition: This map is in B condition with light toning and one rust spot in the image and another in the margin. The centerfold has been reinforced with archival material on the verso.
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