Stock number: 18785Zoom Image
1556 first edition
27.0 x 36.5 cms
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Very early and rare woodcut map of Sumatra by Giacomo Gastaldi, published by Giovanni Battista Ramusio in Volume III of his 'delle Navigationi et Viaggi', the best early compilation on the history of exploration. South ('ostro') is situated at the top of the map. The map is based on French and Portuguese sources.
The map is embellished with pictures of animals, natives, sailing ships, etc. According to Ramusio in his foreword, the maps were made by his friend Giacomo Gastaldi, one of the greatest cartographers of all times.
Ramusio is the first overview work of voyages of discovery. It was first published in 1550 (Volume 1, but not with maps until 1554), 1559 (Volume 2) and 1557 (Volume 3). All were published in Venice.
"Though he himself traveled little, Ramusio published Navigationi et Viaggi ("Navigations and Travels"); a collection of explorers' first-hand accounts of their travels. This was the first work of its kind. "Delle navigationi et viaggi" (Navigations and Travels) is a collection of explorer's first-hand accounts of their travels. It was the first work of its kind. It included the accounts of Marco Polo, Niccolò Da Conti, Magellan, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca and Giosafat Barbaro, as well as the Descrittione dell’ Africa. The description of China contains the first reference in European literature to tea. He also published an excerpt of Tomé Pires' work on the Indies, which had come into his hands, though he did not know the name of its author. The first volume was published in 1550, quickly followed by the third volume in 1556. Publication of the second volume was delayed because the manuscript had been destroyed in a fire before being sent to the printer, and was finally published in 1559, two years after its compiler's death. Navigationi et Viaggi was translated into several languages and reprinted a number of times, indicating how popular such books were becoming on the Continent. It paved the way for a slew of other such works, including those of Richard Hakluyt."
"In Venice in 1548, Giacomo Gastaldi engraved a fine series of maps for what is seen as the first 'pocket' or miniature atlas."
"Praised as 'that most excellent of cartographers', Gastaldi was a native of Piedmont and worked in early life as an engineer in the service of the Venetian Republic before turning in the early 1540s to cartography as a profession. Eventually he was appointed Cosmographer to the Republic.
From 1544 onwards he produced a large number of maps beautifully engraved on copper, using a style which was widely copied by his contemporaries, indeed, his technique marked the final transition away from woodblock printing which had been predominant for so long.
Apart from compiling maps of the world and the continents he was responsible for the maps in an edition of Ptolemy issued in 1548 and in a noted collection of voyages and travels called 'Delle Navigazioni e Viaggi' by Giovanni Battista Ramusio (1485-1557). Many of his maps were included in the Lafreri collections of maps in the 1560–80 period.
Gastaldi is credited with popularizing the idea that a route round the north of the American continent led to a passage which he called the Strait of Anian, named after Marco Polo's Kingdom of Anian. The name appeared on many maps well into the seventeenth century."
(Moreland & Bannister p66)
"Jacopo Gastaldi, 'most excellent' of cosmographers, produced a pocket version of Ptolemy in 1548. 'La Geografia di Claudio Ptolemeo' (with 'criticisms and additions' by Sebastian Münster) contained 26 maps from Ptolemy [..], and 34 new maps (some of the New World)."
(Tooley & Bricker)
"Jacopo Gastaldi, born in Piedmont in about 1500, and by the 1540s cosmographer to the Venetian Republic. At least a hundred maps are attributable to Gastaldi, including his 1548 'Geographia' (published by Nicolo Bascarini). It was a popular edition in Italian prose, and expressly designed in quarto, with maps only 5 by 6.75 inches, so that it could be carried 'nella manica' - in the sleeve. (Quarto is the page size that results when a full-sized printed sheet is folded twice instead of a single time that gives a 'folio' page.).
Gastaldi's contemporaries usually described him as the 'most excellent Piedmontese cosmographer'. As a dedicated professional he worked for a number of publishers, accepting occasional private commissions, as when Venice's all-powerful Council of Ten commissioned him to make fresco maps of Asia and Africa for the walls of a room in the Doge's Palace"
(Tooley & Bricker)
"A small but very elegant Italian [Ptolemy] edition with plates, handsomely engraved in copper by the famous cosmographer Gastaldi. [...]. A whole series of plates of the New World is here met with, for the first time, and some of them are of no slight interest to the history of cartography."
"Sixty maps are engraved in copper in Mattiolo-Gastaldi's Ptolemy of 1548. [...]. On the title-page is written: 'Con alcuni comenti et aggiunti fattevi da Sebastiano Munstero Alamanno, but this evidently refers to the text, not to the maps, which, from a geographical point of view as well as in their technical execution, are immensely superior to those of the learned geographer and Hebrew professor at Basel.
The work is dedicated by Iacobo Gastaldi to Leone Strozzi, 'dignissimo Signore di Capua', whereupon follows an 'A li lettori', where the publisher, Giovanbattista Pedrezano, is highly complimented, for not having spared any expense in getting the maps as finely and well executed as possible, and for having reduced their size as to allow of anybody, without difficulty, carrying the work 'nella manica'. We thus have here the first atlas expressly said to be published in a pocket form."
"This edition of Ptolemy's 'Geography' was the most comprehensive atlas produced between Martin Waldseemüller's 'Geographia' of 1513, and the Abraham Ortelius 'Theatrum' of 1570. It was the first to contain regional maps of the American continent.
Giacomo Gastaldi had the maps beautifully engraved on copper. This marks a turning point, from now on the majority of cartographic works used this medium. As it was a harder material than wood it gave the engraver the ability to render more detail. Born in Villafranca, Piedmont, Gastaldi became Cosmographer to the Venetian Republic, then a powerhouse of commerce and trade. He sought the most up to date geographical information available, and became one of the greatest cartographers of the sixteenth century."