Venice: Aurelio Pincio for Giovanni Battista Padrezano, 1554,4to (230 x 153mm), Contemporary limp vellum, remains of early paper label with manuscript title on spine, title in manuscript along the top and lower edges
Beautiful large woodcut depicting several different types of sailing vessel on the title-page, repeated on C1r, full-page woodcut map of Europe, Africa and the New World, by G.B. Pedranzo after Medina, on E1r, numerous woodcut illustrations, including a large woodcut at the beginning of each of the 8 books, historiated initials, with the blanks b4 and R10.
A BRIGHT AND ATTRACTIVE COPY OF THE FIRST PRACTICAL TREATISE ON NAVIGATION PUBLISHED BY THE ROYAL EXAMINER OF SPANISH SAILING-MASTERS AND PILOTS OF THE WEST INDIES.
First Italian edition, first issue with the title-page dated 1554, first published in Valladolid in Spain in 1545, ‘Medina’s Arte del navegar’ was the first practical treatise on navigation, and the first pilot to provide reliable information on the navigation of American waters. The fine and attractive world map is a reduced version of the one first published in 1545 although it extends further to the north, west and south. includes the coastlines of the New World from Labrador in the north to Brazil in the south, with Florida, the mouth of the Mississippi and the area around the gulf of St. Lawrence. Medina’s “knowledge of the New World was first hand, having travelled with Cortes. Later he held the position of debriefing the returning crews from their voyages. The map depicts the trade routes to and from Spain and her possessions by the use of ships heading south westerly on the outward- bound journey and returning via the Gulf Stream to the north-east. The Papal demarcation line dividing the Americas between Portugal (the land to the east) and Spain (to its west) runs vividly through the map, illustrating for the first time the future influence that the former was to have over the country we know of as Brazil. Central America and particularly the Isthmus of Panama are shown remarkably accurately, and the Yucatan is shown correctly as a peninsular” (Burden). The other fine illustrations in the text include a man using an astrolabe in a series of woodcuts showing how to apply the sun’s seasonal declination from different parts of the earth’s surface (cf. Stimson, The Mariner’s Astrolabe, p.577). In 1548, Medina was appointed cosmographer to Emperor Charles V. The Institute of Naval Architects was founded 1860 in London “to advance the art and science of ship design”.
Provenance: Institute of Naval Architects
Burden 21; Harvard Italian 300; Sabin 47346.