Christopher Columbus provided the first description of his voyage to the "new world" in a letter he wrote on the Nina.
October 14, 2013--Before he returned to the European shore in 1493, Christopher Columbus drafted a letter capturing his "discoveries," which was sent upon landing to Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella and to Ferdinand's treasurer. The latter quickly made its way into print and news of Columbus's voyage spread throughout Europe. Harvard's Houghton Library holds a 1493 printing of the letter, providing an example of one way word of a momentous event was shared 500 years ago.
To satisfy large demand, the printer produced three different editions, printing quickly and inexpensively. Translation of the text from Spanish to Latin meant that a significantly larger audience could read it. A single sheet of paper was folded to make four leaves and the type was small and densely set. The illustrations are from woodcuts already in the printer's stock, rather than custom-made. Despite the relatively large numbers of copies that circulated, few survive today due to its small, fragile size. (Thanks to John Overholt of Houghton Library for contributing to this post.)