By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (September 8, 2021) – In Issue 2021-173 of Steve Kovacs Fun with Maps, we look back at the Magellan expedition on the Pacific. 


Ferdinand Magellan is credited with the first circumnavigation of the earth, having left Spain on September 20, 1519 and returning on this day in 1522. 

The purpose of the expedition was to find a route to the Spice Islands, now known as the Philippines and Indonesia.  The strait at the Southern tip of South America, which is now named after him, was Magellan’s key to a successful crossing into the Pacific Ocean.

The voyage began with 270 men and 5 ships.  It ended when 1 ship carrying 17 men returned to port.  Attrition, 16th century style.

The explorers of that time had no idea of the size of the Pacific Ocean.  Magellan expected it to take 3-4 days to cross, but it took 3 months and 20 days to reach Guam, their first port of call.

And Magellan?  He died in battle in the Philippines in 1521, leaving Juan Sebastian Elcano to lead the remnants of the expedition home.

Here is one of the many maps by Quin issued in 1830 showing the dark clouds evaporating as Europeans discovered more and more parts of the globe over the years.  This map is the known world in 1660, in part thanks to Magellan’s explorations.

Map of the known world 1660 issued circa 1830 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon