Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Antique map of Eastern Europe by Ruscelli

Stock number: 18838

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Girolamo Ruscelli (biography)


Polonia et Hungaria Nuova Tavola

First Published

Venice, 1561

This edition

1562 first state


18.0 x 24.8 cms




Girolamo Ruscelli's splendid map of Eastern Europe, after Gastaldi's 1548 miniature map of the region.

The map covers the area of today's Polonia, Lithuania, Slowakia, Hungaria, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldavia, and larger parts of Belarussia and Yugoslavia.

The map starts in the north with Prussia and Lithuania including Vilnius. Below that is Polonia, Silesia and Hungaria with the cities of Buda and Pest. From there, the river Danube flows all the way to the Black sea. In the lower part is Serbia with Belgrad. At the center and right are Romania, Bulgaria and Moldavia. In the lower right is Constantinople, today's Istanbul.

The map gets very more and more inaccurate in the east. In the northeast is Smolensk, going south there is the city of Chiovia (Kiev ?).

A fascinating extremely early and inaccurate map of Eastern Europe, from one of the most famous 16th century Italian publishers. One of the earliest obtainable depictions of the region. A collector's item.

First state, with the copperplate running off the top of the map.

Girolamo Ruscelli (1504-1566)

Girolamo Ruscelli (1504 Viterbo -1566 Venice), an Italian Alchemist, Physician and cartographer, was editor of a revised and expanded Italian edition of Ptolemy's 'Geographia', published as 'La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo. The newly engraved maps were based, generally, on those compiled by Giacomo Gastaldi for the Venice miniature atlas edition of 1548.

Ruscelli's atlas was issued several times between 1561 and 1599 by the following publishers

- Venice, Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1561
- Venice, Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1562
- Venice, G. Zileti, 1564
- Venice, G. Zileti, 1574
- Venice, Heirs of Melchior Sessa, 1598-99

The Ruscelli and Gastaldi atlases were the most comprehensive atlases produced between Martin Waldseemüller's 'Geographia' of 1513, and Abraham Ortelius 'Theatrum' of 1570. The significance of the Gastaldi and Ruscelli atlases cannot be overestimated. They defined the known geography of the world for decades. These atlases also reintroduced the use of copper engraving into the service of cartography, which was dominated by woodcut printing after several not very succesful attempts to print from copper in the 15th century. The Gastaldi and Ruscelli atlases proved that maps could be beautifully engraved on copper. As it was a harder material than wood, it was harder to engrave but also gave the ability to render much more detail. The Gastaldi and Ruscelli atlases marked a turning point in the history of cartography, from then on the majority of cartographic works used this medium.

"Ruscelli was editor of a revised and expanded edition of Ptolemy's Geographia which was issued in Venice several times between 1561 and the end of the century.

The newly angraved maps were based, generally, on those compiled by Giacomo Gastaldi for the Venice edition of 1548."

(Moreland & Bannister).