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Whaling and walrus hunting on Spitzbergen (called Greeneland) in the Arctic Circle

Date: 1625
Dimensions:
Image: 285 x 320 mm
Sheet: 314 x 380 mm
Sight: 290 x 355 mm
Mount: 485 x 560 mm, 5 mm
Overall: 485 x 565 mm, 0.277 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Art
Object Name: Print
Object No: 00019689
Place Manufactured:United Kingdom

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    Description
    The coloured print depicts a map of part of the island of Spitzbergen surrounded by images of whale, walrus and bear hunting. Parts of the island are named 'Greeneland', 'Edgeslland' and 'Wiches Land'. Eleven images surround the map each with a descriptive title beneath. They depict the hunting and processing of whales, the hunting of walruses (called seamorces) and of bears. Published in Samuel Purchas's book 'Purchas his Pilgrimes, contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells, by Englishmen and others' in 1625.
    SignificanceAlthough a commercial enterprise, English whaling ventures at Spitzbergen were still a source of fascination for those at home. Travel books emphasising exotic locations and exaggerated creatures were hugely popular at this time and the whaling industry a dramatic undertaking that people knew little about.
    HistoryThe print, an illustration from 'Purchas his Pilgrimes' by Samuel Purchas, illustrates the accounts of the whaling voyages of the Muscovy Company from 1611, including those by Thomas Edge (for whom Edgeslland was named on the map), William Baffin and Robert Fotherby. The island on the map is Spitzbergen (the name given to it by the Dutch) but early English mariners called it Greeneland (Greenland). The discovery of Spitzbergen was the beginning of English whaling. The Muscovy Company obtained a charter in 1612 to exploit the islands however by 1625 competition from the Dutch made Spitzbergen less attractive to the English, so the whalers turned west to the real Greenland.

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