Item #5000423 Viage al estrecho de Magallanes… en los anos de 1579 y 1580…. Pedro SARMIENTO DE GAMBOA.
Viage al estrecho de Magallanes… en los anos de 1579 y 1580…
Viage al estrecho de Magallanes… en los anos de 1579 y 1580…

Viage al estrecho de Magallanes… en los anos de 1579 y 1580…

Madrid: Imprenta Real, 1768.

Small quarto, with twelve views on three folding plates; a fine copy in contemporary red morocco, spine panelled in gilt in compartments between raised bands, green leather label, sides ornately bordered in gilt with Spanish royal arms at the centre, all edges gilt.

Sixteenth century exploration of the Straits of Magellan: Spanish royal armorial binding

First edition: a beautiful copy in a fine contemporary morocco binding incorporating the royal arms of Carlos III of Spain.

First edition: a beautiful copy in a fine contemporary morocco binding incorporating the royal arms of Carlos III of Spain.

This is the first printing - from the manuscript in the Royal Library, Madrid - of this highly important sixteenth-century description of the Straits of Magellan and the first attempt to found a Spanish settlement on its shores. Sarmiento, who had sailed with Mendaña on the expedition to search for Terra Australis which charted the Solomons in 1568, was sent to the Straits to intercept Drake but arrived too late. His subsequent exploration of the area convinced the Spanish to attempt settlements there, with Sarmiento given command of a sixteen-ship fleet, but the venture failed and Sarmiento was captured by the British.

Nonetheless, Sarmiento's charting of the region was, as J.H. Parry signals (The Discovery of South America, London, 1979, pp. 285-9) 'the most serious and thorough exploration of Magellan's Strait in the sixteenth century - indeed the most thorough exploration ever made before the voyage of the Beagle in the nineteenth century.' In fact the officers of the Beagle were lost in admiration for Sarmiento's explorations, but also for his vainglorious attempts at settlement. Philip Parker King concluded: 'This was the first, and perhaps will be the last, attempt made to occupy a country, offering no encouragement for a human being; a region, where the soil is swampy, cold, and unfit for cultivation, and whose climate is thoroughly cheerless…'.

The ghastly fate of the settlement is recounted in the appendix also printed here, which is the harrowing account of Tomé Hernandez, the only survivor of the settlement established by Sarmiento at Rey Don Felipe (or Port Famine as it was aptly named by his rescuer, Thomas Cavendish). An English translation of this work is found in Clements Markham, Narratives of the Voyages of Pedro Sarmiento de Gambóa, Hakluyt Society, 1895 (pp. 1-205, 352-75).

There is a small internet literature on a supposed UFO sighting noted in the text (search, for example, the blog entries under "patagoniamonsters".

Borba de Moraes II, 237; Hill, 1526; James Ford Bell, S112; Leclerc, 1988; Medina BHC, 482; Palau, 302364; Sabin, 77094.

Price (AUD): $18,750.00

US$12,552.06   Other currencies

Ref: #5000423