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The Southern Atlantic Ocean and West Southern Africa, by J.H. van Linschoten.


Typus orarum maritimarum Guineae, Manicongo, & Angolae ..., 1596.

€3900  ($4524 / £3549)
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Item Number:  26586
Category:  Antique maps > Africa
References: Norwich O.I. - 239a; Tooley (Africa) - p.67; Schilder 7 - 10.3.3

Old chart of the Southern Atlantic Ocean and West Southern Africa, by J.H. van Linschoten.

Engraved and designed by Arnold Floris and Hendrik Floris van Langren.
Cartographer: Petrus Plancius.

Date of the first edition: 1596
Date of this map: 1596 or later.

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Size (not including margins): 38.5 x 52.5cm (15 x 20.5 inches)
Verso: Blank
Condition: Original coloured, printed on heavy paper, 3 small reinforcements at folds, light discolouration along centrefold.
Condition Rating: A
References: Norwich O.I., 239a; Tooley (Africa), p.67; Schilder 7, 10.3.3.

From: Jan Huygen van Linschoten, Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien.... Amsterdam: C. Claesz, 1595-96.

Along the upper edge and the right side, the coast of West Africa is shown from Sierra Leone to the Cape of Good Hope and beyond to the Rio do infante. In the interior, one sees Lake Zaire (Zaire lacus), from which the Nile (Nilus fluvius) flows northward, and the Zaire (named Rio de Manicongo and R. de Congo) flowing to the west. Two mermaids are drawn in the lake. Further to the north lies the Niger lacus, from which the Niger (Niger fluvius) flows northward. The coast of Brazil can just be made out on the left edge of the map, where the C. de S. Augustino and Pernambuco can be distinguished. The island of Tristan da Cunha (I. da Tristaom da cunha) marks the southern border of the map sheet. On both sides, a scale of degrees is placed along the edge; the one on the left gives the parallels at a distance of 5°.

Three scrollwork cartouches are placed in the Southern Atlantic Ocean (OCEANUS AETHIOPICUS). The one in the middle, which is decorated with the coat of arms of Portugal on top, contains the title in Latin and Dutch and the name of the engraver. The titles give a brief description of the territory depicted on the map (in translation): "Illustration of the coasts of the lands of Guinea, Manicongo, Angola, and down beyond the Cape of Good Hope, with all the harbours, islands, cliffs, dry parts and shallows, with the whole width of the Ethiopian Ocean, extending from East to West to Pernambuco and Cape St. Augustine (on the coast of Brazil): likewise of all the islands of the same, the main ones being St. Thomas, St. Helena, and Ascension Island, and the rest, with the true extent of each, all very accurately indicated, revised and improved in accordance with the very best Indian maps'.

A smaller cartouche shows the scale bars in Dutch and Spanish miles. By far most of the southern part of the ocean is taken up by an elongated cartouche incorporating views of the islands of Ascension and St. Helena. Any space left between the cartouches and the islands depicted here, the surface of the water is enlivened with two elegantly engraved compass roses, a sea monster, and three Portuguese vessels under sail. The entire artistic composition and production of the map, the work of the engraver Arnold Floris van Langren, makes this one of the most beautiful examples of Dutch engraving produced at the end of the sixteenth century.
The detailed representation of the interior of Africa defines this map as both a terrestrial map and a sea chart. According to the title, the content is 'in accordance with the very best Indian maps'.
The views of the islands of Ascension and St. Helena were copied from prints. The original drawings on which they were based were made by Van Linsschoten, who brought them back from Goa on his voyage of 1589. These were then engraved by Baptista van Doetecum for the Itinerario. For the chart, Van Doetecum selected the central profile on the Ascension print, while the lower profile of the St. Helena print was used to embellish the chart. The harbour of St. Helena in particular was a preferred provisioning place and meeting point for ships returning from the East.

The five detail maps of Van Linschoten's Itinerario, all of which were engraved by Arnold Floris and Hendrik Floris van Langren, cover a large proportion of the non-European world known at the time. (Schilder)