VARGAS Y PONCE, José de (1760-1821, generally attributed to)
Relación del ultimo viage al Estrecho de Magallanes de la fragata de S. M. Santa Maria de la Cabeza en los anos de 1785 y 1786. Extracto de todos los anteriores desde su descubrimiento impresos y mss. y noticia de los habitantes. 1788. Madrid. Viuda de Ibarra.
Madrid: Viuda de Ibarra, Hijos y Compañía, 1788. 4to. (9 3/8 x 6 14/16 inches). Engraved portrait frontispiece, 4 folding engraved maps and 4 folding tables, number in ink manuscript to foot of title, epigraph leaf with later ink note and bookplate of Maria Zoila Godoy de Cobo [bound with:] Apéndice a la Relacion del Viage al Magallanes. Madrid: Viuda de Joaquin Ibarra, 1793. First Edition. Folding table and folding map.
Contemporary red morocco gilt, with supralibros of Charles III on boards, double-fillet and roll-tooled borders to boards, raised bands to spine with simple tooling, green morocco lettering piece, blue silk endpapers.
Provenance: Maria Zoila Godoy de Cobo, Argentinian heiress, philanthropist and patron of the arts, one of the early benefactors of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes of Buenos Aires, Argentina; engraved bookplate on a2.
First edition, one of the classic works of navigation to the Magellan Strait, here in a fine copy bound in the contemporary red morocco with the arms of Charles III of Spain, bound post mortem, as the appendix was printed in 1793 and Charles III died in 1793; normally only the Relacion is found bound with Charles III´s arms, copies with both works bound together as here with the arms are excessively rare. It can be considered a tribute to Charles III, under whose reign the expedition was ordered. The fact that even after the King's death there was a desire to have the book presented with his arms is a testament to the magnitude of the expedition commissioned by the crown, and the respect held for the King, one of the most active in the administration and reform of the Indies. The Relacion is one of the best descriptions of the Strait of Magellan and the Patagonia in the 18th century. It is based on the scientific explorations undertaken by Captain Antonio de Cordoba on board the frigate Santa Maria de la Cabeza, with the aim of exploring Patagonia and to determine the continuity of the use of the Strait for Spanish ships in voyages to the Pacific, although without success as "after these expeditions the Spanish trade routes were exclusively to east ports and then overland to the Pacific ports" (Hill). Vargas y Ponce, to whom authorship is normally attributed, used also the journals of Lieutenants Galiano and Belmonte, who sailed with Cordoba. In 1793, an Appendix was published "Obra interesante y bien publicada" (Palau); this later part is a historical view of former expeditions, including those of Drake and Bougainville. The illustration comprises -between the Relacion and the Apendice- five large folding maps (including the "Carta reducida del Estrecho de Magallanes", "Carta Esferica de la parte sur de la América Meridional", and two multi-inset maps of ports), a frontispiece portrait of Fernando de Magallanes by Selma, and five folding tables.
Sabin 16765 & 1729; Hill 1756.