Back in September this map dubbed the 'Holy Grail' for collectors, was sold at Reeman Dansie Auction House for £260,000 - smashing a 138-year-old record. I had my eye on a couple of far lesser maps in this auction but this was the "jewel in the crown" of any enthusiast. This and other maps in the auction were sold on behalf of the late Christopher Beresford-Jones, a prominent collector. The whole collection raising just short of £500k.
If you didn't get the chance to see the Murillo Velarde map of the Philippines then the following pictures and images will be of great interest.
Pedro de Murillo Velarde (1696-1753), engraved map - ‘ Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica delas Yslas Filipinas Dedicada al Rey Nuestro Señor Por el Mariscal d Campo D. Fernando Valdes Tamon Cavallº del Orden de Santiago de Govor. y Capn. General de dichas Yslas‘, ( The Murillo Velarde Map), engraved by Nicolás de la Cruz Bagay, published Manilla 1734, title cartouche at the top with the Royal Bourbon coat of arms, supported by two cherubs with trumpets, the title on a cloth held by two female allegorical figures bearing charts and instruments for navigation.
A further ornate cartouche below, surmounted by a crowned lion wielding a sword and a candle, contains a brief history of the archipelago starting with Magellan's arrival and death in 1521, a description of the resources: ‘These islands are numerous and rich: they have gold, wax, sugar, honey, tobacco, ginger, indigo, Brazil wood (sfibucao), pitch, rice, salt, wheat, maize, lemons, oranges, bananas and many fruits and edible roots, palo Maria, tamarind, cassia-trees, Catbalogan seeds, dragon blood, lignum vitae, coconuts, bamboos, rattan and many kinds of palms, mahogany, tindalo and excellent timber for ships: horse, caraboas or buffaloes, cows, pigs, deer, chickens and much fish.’ There follows a description of the settlements, peoples, clergy and administration, all above an engraving of his ship the Victoria.
The map is dissected and re-mounted on linen, 111cm x 120cm, early pen inscription verso - ‘map of the Philippine Islands’, folding map in later slip case. An extremely rare map and believed to be one of only around 15 extant examples of this first edition - the majority in International Institutions, and not all examples retain the flanking vignettes. Cited as the first scientific map of the Philippines and considered the most important Philippines map, it is celebrated for its detail and accuracy, it features shipping routes for trade with China and charts the course of Magellan’s navigations.
The map features twelve flanking vignettes (Some shown here) encapsulating the essence of the Philippines, depicting different ethnic groups, customs, flora and fauna, also featured are miniature maps of Guajan (Guam), Manila, Samboangan and Cavite , all extensively annotated. The map influenced all subsequent Philippine maps for decades to follow but its influence was also notable on European maps.
In recent times The Murillo Velarde map has been instrumental in the Philippines' efforts to assert territorial rights in the South China Sea. The map, together with others was used by the Philippines' team of experts to refute China's historic claim of ownership of the entire South China Sea. It features ‘Panacot’ (Scarborough Shoal) as well as ‘Los Bajos de Paragua’ (Spratly Isles). In 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favour of the Philippines stating that China had "no historical rights". China however, rejected the ruling.
Provenance: Purchased from the map dealer Susanna Fisher, 1986 for £4,500. She had acquired the map from a trade source some years before and prior to that the map was believed to have been in private hands in the U.K. She states in correspondence that the ancient pen inscription in English to the reverse suggests that this map has been in the U.K. for a very long period of time.