London specialist Daniel Crouch Rare Books is asking $10m for the 1531 manuscript map of the world by Vesconte Maggiolo (c.1476-c.1551). It includes the earliest extant depiction of New York harbour.
The map or portolan chart (a navigational aid based on compass directions and estimated distances observed at sea) plots Giovanni de Verrazzano’s epic first voyage to the new world.
Verrazzano successfully reached “a new land never before seen by anyone” – probably Cape Fear in North Carolina – on March 1, 1524. He then sailed north to New York, naming the area ‘Angouleme’ in honour of his patron Francis I of France who was known as ‘Francis of Angouleme’ before he became king of France. He reported enthusiastically on the indigenous people and described the beauty and abundance of the land.
Verrazzano returned to the Americas in 1528 only to be eaten by cannibals within sight of his crew while anchored near Guadeloupe.
It is almost a century since another 16th century portolan chart has appeared on the market. The last was sold to the Huntington Library, California in 1923.
It too was by Vesconte Maggiolo whose life spans the golden age of exploration. His first clearly dated chart was made in 1511, less than 20 years after Columbus’ first voyage to America.
This 1531 map was apparently unknown until 1983, and remained undocumented until 1996. It comes from a collector in the UK.
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