MALDONADO, Lorenzo Ferrer (died 1625). Viaggio dal Mare Atlantico a Pacifico per la via del Nordovest. l'anno MDLXXXVIII. Translated by Carlo Amoretti. [Bologna: Pe'fratelli Mari e Comp., 1813].

$ 2,800.00

4to., (12 2/8 x 9 2/8 inches). 3 fine engraved folding maps including "Carte pel Viaggio di Lorenzo Ferrer Maldonado nel 1588. Dallo Streto di Hudson a quello di Bering.", and two of vignettes of the Straits of Anian (with contemporary hand-color) and other key straits in the search for the Northwest Passage (some marginal dampstains and occasional spotting to text). Modern quarter red calf marbled boards, uncut and largely unopened.


Published in the series "Memorie delle due Classi di Morale, Politica ec. E di Letteratura e Belle Arti", Amoretti's translation from the Spanish of Maldonado's spurious account of his voyage through the Northwest passage from East to West was first published in Milan in 1811. Bound with Francesco Venini's "Salmi e Cantici tradotti in odi di vario metro". Maldonado's spurious "Relacion..." was originally circulated in manuscript. He claimed to have participated in a successful voyage through the northwest passage during the winter of 1588. He "submitted his 'Relacion' to Philip III in 1609, probably in an attempt to profit by Spain’s growing concern with English efforts to find a northwest passage.

Maldonado describes entering the Strait of Labrador (Davis Strait) at 60°, following it northwest 280 leagues to emerge at 75°, then following a generally westward passage of 790 leagues to emerge through a strait, in about 60°, that he believed to divide Asia from America, the Strait of Anian. After exploring the coast of America to about 55° the expedition returned through the Strait of Anian and the northwest passage to Spain. Maldonado urged in strong terms the necessity of Spain’s fortifying the Strait of Anian before the English reached it, and he dwelt glowingly upon economic and other advantages to the nation of controlling this short trade route to the Far East. Maldonado was evidently familiar with English voyages of the period, especially those of John Davis, and probably he knew of Michael Lok’s support of Juan de Fuca, who claimed to have discovered the Strait of Anian in 1592" (Dictionary of Canadian Biography online). The Duke of Almodóvar first published Maldonado's account in 1788, and Philippe Buache de La Neuville read a related paper endorsing Maldonado's claims (later published in Spanish) before the Paris Academy of Sciences in 1790. This led to the Spanish government commissioning Alexandro Malaspina in 1791 to an unsuccessful search of the northwest coast for a strait near 60°. In 1811, Carlo Amoretti published an Italian translation of the "Relacion" that he had found in the Ambrosian Library, Milan, of which he was librarian. In 1812, he republished the work in French and appended a Discours defending the authenticity of the work. It wasn't until 1849 that Fernandez Navarrete published condemnatory statements, and numbered the Relacion with the apocryphal accounts of Juan de Fuca and Bartholomew de Fonte. Catalogued by Kate Hunter