Frankfurt: Theodore De Bry, 1609.
Map. Uncolored copperplate engraving. Sheet measures 12" x 8".
This interesting map of Novaya Zemlya or Nova Zembla in Dutch, an archipelago in the Arctic Sea located just north of Russia. The map, centered on the Kara Strait (here noted as Fretum Nassau or Nassau Straits), covers the southern tip of the Novaya Zemlya and the northern tip of Vaygach Island. The map beautifully renders the topography and the sea, with seven Dutch ships making their way through the straits.
On the islands illustrations of men, who might be hunters, on foot, in reindeer drawn sledges, are seen carrying guns or spears. Two hunters are seen shooting a bear. Some coastal features including depth soundings are noted.
The latin text describes part of the Arctic explorations of Willem Barentzs (c. 1550--1597), a Dutch navigator and cartographer. Conducted between 1594 and 1596, Barentzs' three voyages into the seas north of Siberia are widely considered the most notable of many European efforts in this period to find a northern sea passage to China and India.
Gerrit de Veer (c. 1570-1598), second mate to Barentzs, kept a journal where he describes the journeys in meticulous detail, including the discoveries of Spitzbergen, Bear Island, and Novaya Zemlya during the successful third voyage, which Barentzs piloted under the command of Jacob van Heemskerk. Moreover, it includes what is perhaps the third voyage's most famous incident: after the ship became entrapped in ice, de Veer, who was also the ship's carpenter, directed the dismantling of the ship and the subsequent construction of a cabin from its lumber in which the crew spent the winter.
Although Barentzs did not survive the trip back, de Veer and some of the other crew members journeyed home on open boats and were eventually rescued by Dutch ships. De Veer's journal was originally published in 1598 in Latin by Cornelius Claesz, one of the most significant Amsterdam publishers of the end of the sixteenth century.
A prominent publisher of early Dutch travel accounts, Claesz adopted de Veer's heroic tale and commissioned Baptista van Doetichum to produce engravings to accompany the text. This particular map is Theodore de Bry's edition based on Doetichum's engravings. The map is in very good condition with some overall age toning.
Theodore de Bry (1528-1595) was a German engraver and book dealer. He produced illustrations of European and international cities which he both visited and imagined visiting, publishing them with maps and atlases by fellow engravers. After his death, his family compiled the images into two series, the Grand Voyages and the Petit Voyages. This map, a fine example of his work, is from the 1609 Latin edition of the Petit Voyages.