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The Rare First State

West Africa/ Slave Trade. GASTALDI, G./ RAMUSIO, J.B. [Venice, 1556]
Parte del Africa. . 11 x 14 ¼ inches
Minor mind lower margin, else fine with a strong impression.

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The first state and a fine example of this highly decorative woodcut map of western Africa and the Guinea Coast, stretching from modern day Mauritania to Cameroon. While the interior is fanciful, the coastline is well detailed for the period. Prominently featured is the Castel de la Mina, chief among Portugal’s fortresses in Africa, which was a key staging location for both the gold and the slave trades along the Guinea coast. However, this map suggests an early breach in the Portuguese monopoly over the region. Although a ship bearing the Portuguese arms sails to La Mina, another ship – this one with the French fleur de lis – is shown sailing to Sierra Leone and the Costa de la Melegeta.

Norwich 314.

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