Compendio del arte de navegar.

Seville, en casa de Juan de León, 1588.


4to. ff. [3] 61. A-Q4. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printer’s device on title, historaited and floriated woodcut initials, numerous woodcuts in text illustrating navigational instruments (including an astrolabe), Solar tables, later manuscript shelf mark on fly, early armorial library stamps on title (ilegible), bookplate of the ‘Hautbibliothek des Riechs-Marine” on pastedown, their stamp on t-p, faded ms ex libris, and purchase note on verso of ‘Gabriel Josepé Lopez Valencia’ dated 1753. Light age yellowing, occasional marginal thumb mark, ink spot or mark. A very good copy in C19th tree calf, red morocco label gilt

Exceptionally rare fourth edition, first published in 1581, of this important and most practical treatise designed to train pilots in the arts of Navigation specifically for the burgeoning trade with the New World; All early editions are very rare. The work was also influential in England as it was translated into English in 1610 by Edward Wright in ‘Certaine Errors in Navigation’. Zamorano was a cosmographer teaching at the Casa de la Contratacion which trained pilots and maintained charts and rutters, and managed the shipping and trade between Spain and the New World. “As early as 1519, the Casa de Contratacion in Seville had specialists in instrument and mapmaking, and in 1523 it named its first specialist with the title of Cosmographer. .. Cosmographical activity at the Casa de la Contratacion coalesced around the figure of Rodrigo Zamorano (1542–1620) during the 1580s. A University trained cosmographer, he occupied at one point or another each of the Casa’s Cosmographical posts during his almost 40 years at the Sevilian institution. His interests extended beyond navigation to include astrology, astronomy, and natural history. Zamorano cultivated American plants in his garden in Seville and exchanged botanical specimens with Dutch naturalist Charles de L’Ecluse. Although he never published on the subject of natural history, he did write on astrology, mathematics, and navigation and published repeated editions of a chronology and an Almanac. .. In addition to the Spanish translation of Euclid’s Elements that earned him consideration for the professorship at the University of Salamanca, Zamorano wrote a navigation manual and a chronology (Seville 1585). The navigation manual followed the well established format of earlier manuals popularised in Spain and Europe by Medina and Cortés. The short book, only sixty folios in quarto, covers the topics laid down by the 1552 statutes creating the ‘catedra de cosmographia’ at the Casa de la Contratacion. Over the next thirteen years, the Compendio underwent six printings in Seville, with the last one appearing in 1591.” María M. Portuondo ‘Secret Science: Spanish Cosmography and the New World’

Zamorano was immensely practical in his approach to navigation abandoning the old methods, collaborating directly with pilots and explorers. “Zamorano met with Captain Pedro Sariento de Gamboa to discuss the geography of the straights of Magellan and assist him in building instruments and preparing nautical charts to be used during Sariento’s 1581-83 return voyage to fortify and colonise the Strait. Sarmiento had first explored the area in 1579-80, in a voyage motivated by Sir Francis Drake’s incursion in the Pacific Ocean and his attacks on Spanish settlements along the South American coast. At that time Sarmiento’s objective had been to intercept Drake at the Straits, but the Englishman chose instead to return via a Pacific crossing. .. Zamorano conferred with Sarmiento and his Pilot, Antonio Pablos, who had mapped the area during the previous expedition, to correct “great errors concerning longitude” in the rutter and charts used in the expedition.” María M. Portuondo. Zamorano, carried out careful astronomical observations to correct solar values he considered contributed to imprecise latitude calculations by pilots, which he printed in the tables in this text.

Exceptionally rare and important navigational text, which gives tremendous insight into the problems faced by pilots and captains on route to the New World.

USTC 342533. Palau. 379250. Alden 588/82. Not in JFB.


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