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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Offering of the Day: A Very Important Manuscript Map of the Anchorage at Easter Island from the 1770 Expedition to Claim the Island for Spain

Plano de la Ensenada de Gonzales en la Isla de San Carlos...1770
Manuscript map: 14” x 16”

[EASTER ISLAND]. ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT MAP of EASTER ISLAND “Plano de la Ensenada de Gonzales en la Isla de San Carlos...” [Spain: 1770]. Single sheet, float mounted and framed and glazed on both sides (sheet size: 14 x 16 inches; 13 2/8 x 15 6/8 inches to the neat line). FINE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT MAP OF the ANCHORAGE AT EASTER ISLAND, in pen and ink and water-colour wash (old vertical and horizontal folds). Provenance: early manuscript annotations on verso; with Maggs Bros Ltd., London, their catalogue entry dated October 1940. A fine map showing the Anchorage at Easter Island from the 1770 Spanish expedition to claim the island for Spain. The full title inscribed above the key in the upper left-hand corner is: “Plano de la Ensenada de Gonzales en la Isla de San Carlos (Alias de David), situado en los 27 [degrees] 6’, y en Long. 264 [degrees] Meridiano de Tenerife, segun el calculo y observaciones echas en la Fragata Sta. Rosalia, del mando de su Capn. Dn. Antonio Domonte, que salio del Puerto del Caliao en 10 de 8bre. De 70, en conserva del No. Sn. Lorenzo hacer la descubierta, y reconocimiento de della Isla” A fascinating historical document regarding the early knowledge of Easter Island and the history of its discovery by European explorers.  Located in the South Pacific between Chile and Tahiti, Easter Island or Rapanui is one of the most isolated inhabited islands in the world.  Archeologists have proposed that it was settled sometime before the 4th century AD, probably by natives from elsewhere in Eastern Polynesia, perhaps the Marquesas.  In any event, on Easter Sunday 1722, the island's isolation ended when three ships under the command of Jacob Roggeveen came upon it and made preliminary explorations.  A wild account of the time there and other adventures was published by a member of the crew, Fredrich Behrens, thus commencing the tradition of strange tales that have become such a major part of the literature of the island.  It was not until almost 50 years later that further contact was made with the island, with the 1770 Spanish expedition to Rapanui under the command of Felipe Gonzalez y Haedo.    The arrival of the Spanish at Easter Island was not accidental; they were seeking to claim the island in order to prevent the English from doing so.  In an elaborate ceremony, complete with flags and cannon, Gonzalez took possession of the "Isla de San Carlos" (named for his king).  However, the Spanish colonization initiative went no further and the question of a claim there was never taken up, but several excellent maps, including the present rare example, came out of the expedition.  Drawn by a member of the Spanish crew, this map shows the anchorage at Easter Island, which was named "Ensenada de Gonzales" in honor of the captain.  At the top it also includes profile drawings of the coast, showing the locations of several of the famous stone figures.  The map's inscription notes that it was drawn according to observations made aboard the frigate Santa Rosalia, one of two ships on the expedition.                                                                                 

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