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PURCHAS, Samuel. [English whaling at Spitzbergen in the early 17th century]
['Greenland' & 'Edges Island'.] London: A. & J. Churchill, 1744. 295 x 335mm. A very fine example with wide margins.
Despite having 'Greenland' written across one island this is a map of Spitzbergen, flanked by eleven scenes of whale fishing & processing, and bear and walrus hunting (here called 'seamorces'). It was designed to illustrate the accounts of the whaling voyages of the Muscovy Company from 1611, including those by Thomas Edge (still remembered in the name of one of the islands, Edges Iland), William Baffin and Robert Fotherby. Purchas is not confusing Spitzbergen with the modern Greenland: the name was an anglicisation of Nicolo Zeno's name for the Arctic land he 'discovered' in the 14th century, 'Engroniland' or 'Grolandia'. The name stuck despite Fotherby writing that there was nowhere 'yet knowne and discovered that is lesse greene than it'. The discovery of Spitzbergen was the beginning of English whaling. In 1612 the Moscovy Company obtained a charter supposedly giving them exclusive rights to exploiting the islands; in 1613 a fleet of seven ships under Benjamin Joseph and Edge arrived to find 17 foreign ships, which they either bullied into leaving or forced to hand over half their catch. By 1625 competition from the Dutch made Spitzbergen less attractive to the English, so the whalers turned west to the real Greenland.
[Ref: 16125]    £980.00 ($1,303 • €1,117 rates)

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