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Scarborough 1st appeared on maps of Philippine waters in 1750s

MANILA, Philippines — On the night of Sept. 12, 1748 the British East India Co. ship Scarborough struck the now-famous reef of the same name while on its way from England to China.

As a result, the name “Scarborough Shoal” first appeared on maps of Philippine waters by English cartographers in the 1750s, according to research by a member of the Philippine Map Collectors Society.

However, the wreck of the Scarborough is not to be found in Philippine seas as it arrived safely back in England in June 1749.

The contentious Scarborough Shoal may thus be seen in William Heather’s 1799 “Chart of the China Seas,” an example of which was sold to great enthusiasm at the recent León Gallery Bibliophiles and Explorers Auction. It also appears in the Murillo Velarde map in his 1749 book under the name “Panacot,” which also went to auction last weekend successfully. Both terms refer to Bajo de Masinloc.

The vellum-covered Murillo Velarde tome (1749), containing a book-sized version of the famous 1734 map engraved by Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay and an engraving of the Virgin of Antipolo by Laureano Atlas, skyrocketed to P3.4 million (inclusive of buyer’s premium) while the Heather China Seas map took in P780,000.

These and other treasures were collected over a lifetime’s pursuit that spanned 70 years and three continents, the legendary array of books, maps and prints of the revered scholar Don Benito J. Legarda Jr. was one of 2023’s biggest blockbuster auctions, said León Gallery director Jaime Ponce de Leon. It smashed world records for Philippine books and prints – making it plain that the devotion to Filipino books and history is very much alive and well.

The entire collection topped P50 million and set a precedent in its genre. Titled “The Bibliophiles and Explorers Auction,” the sale also achieved the elusive white-glove status, or had 100 percent of its lots sold.

“It was the magic of the Legarda name, and the impeccable provenance of one of the country’s most beloved collectors that spelled the difference,” said Ponce de Leon. Coupled with the discovery of never-before-seen classics from the Legarda collection and the thrill of the chase in a competitive auction that