Madrid: 7 December, 1611.
Folio, 303 x 203 mm., four leaves, foliated -3 (six pages of printed text, the final leaf blank); woodcut initial "E" on the first leaf.
Quirós' Memorial of 1611 asking for a speedy decision
Quirós' Memorial of 1611
Quirós' Memorial of 1611
One of the greatest voyage rarities: an original Quirós presentation memorial. As Carlos Sanz has written, "Apart from Columbus' Letter announcing his arrival in the Indies (America) [there is] no printed document that has counted for so much in the history of discovery and navigation…
"The era of the great geographical discoveries, opened with Columbus' first transatlantic voyage, closed with those announced in the Quirós Memorial. Two great oceans (the Atlantic and the Pacific), an immense continent (America), the Philippine Islands and finally Australia are the achievements to be put to the account of this great maritime adventure, the greatest known to the centuries…".
The Quirós Presentation Memorials represent the earliest printed record of discovery and plans for settlement of a Southern Continent, the discoveries that Quirós named "Austrialia del Espíritu Santo". He prepared a series of proposals, presenting them to King Philip III of Spain and his councils as Memorials between 1607 and 1614. Some of the memorials were only prepared in manuscript; just 14 were printed for presentation, at Quirós' own expense. These fourteen Presentation Memorials form a progression of statements describing the discoveries made by Quirós and Mendaña of a Southern Continent, and petition the King to support an expedition of further discovery and colonisation there, to settle the lands for Spain and Christianity.
Each Memorial further argues Quirós' case: they do not, as is often misunderstood, simply repeat the same argument. This misconception may have been caused by the fact that the text of just one of the Memorials is seen almost exclusively in all the very many subsequent publications and dissemination, that of the so-called "Eighth Memorial", the single Memorial whose text leaked outside Spanish court circles in 1612 and was quickly and widely disseminated. Its influence was immense: as Alexander Dalrymple observed of Quirós in 1770, 'The discovery of the Southern Continent, whenever, and by whomsoever it may be completely effected, is in justice due to this immortal name'.
This is the eleventh in the series of 14 such Presentation Memorials now identified. In it Quirós stresses that he has now spent fifty months petitioning at court. He summarises the arguments for colonising the southern land and asks for a speedy decision as the annual fleet will sail shortly. Four other copies are known: the two located by Kelly (Archive of the Indies and Dixson Library Sydney), and two copies known to be privately owned. This example is particularly interesting for containing a four-line note in ink on the blank final leaf specifically addressing this copy: Memorial del capitan quiros dado al Consejo (??) de estacaman (??) dado feste [final four words indecipherable].
The pre-eminent collection of Quirós Presentation Memorials is in the Mitchell and Dixson Libraries within the State Library of New South Wales where altogether 13 of the 14 known Memorials are held. When David Scott Mitchell acquired, a century ago, the entire collection of Alfred Lee (over 10,000 books, paintings, pamphlets, prints and drawings) he did so despite a duplication rate estimated at over 90%, acknowledging that the purchase was made solely in order to acquire Banks' Endeavour Journal and two Quirós Presentation Memorials. His fellow collector Sir William Dixson shared the same passion, acquiring over his lifetime eight of the Presentation Memorials, paying – according to Dunn – between £650 and £1000 for each of them: these were among the highest prices for any voyage material in the inter- and immediately post-war period, and demonstrate the extent to which the Memorials have always been valued. The other potent indicator of rarity is that the National Library of Australia holds just a single Quirós Presentation Memorial, and that acquired in recent times. Although they have only been collecting as a separate institution since 1960, the national collection does include much of the original Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, as well as Ferguson's famous collection of Australiana.
Dunn, Quiros Memorials, p. 45 (Q61/6); Kelly, Calendar of documents, 709 (47 in list); Medina (BHA), 6456; Palau, 89603; Pinochet de la Barra, Pedro Fernández de Quiros: Memoriales de las Indias Australes,, Memorial 47.
Price (AUD): $275,000.00 other currencies Ref: #4004765