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A Once Lost, 16th Century World Map
[Venice or Florence, c. 1555]

World.  CALAPODA, Giorgio (?) / UNKNOWN.  [Venice or Florence, c. 1555] Untitled World Map.  8 x 11 ½ inches.  Engraving.  A brown stain in the Indian Ocean, else excellent condition with wide margins.                                                                                
A very rare, 16th-century world map that had been described as lost, until it surfaced in the catalogue of Guglielmo Libri in 1864.  Shirley states that only four or five examples of the map are presently known.  The weight of the paper strongly suggests the map was issued separately, as do its verso being blank and its great rarity. For reasons unknown, it has been referred to as the "Florentine Goldsmith's Map," an appellation first applied by the bookseller, F. S. Ellis in 1884. 

The map closely resembles a world map found in a portolan atlas by Giorgio Calapoda dated 1552; however, whether the engraved map was copied from Calapoda's map or the reverse has not been determined. The present map is geographically very similar to Gastaldi's world maps of 1546 and 1548 but with one glaring regression--the reappearance of the Verrazanean Sea.  (In his voyage of exploration in 1524 along the east coast of North America, Verrazano mistook the bay west of the Grand Banks as the Pacific Ocean.)  Also strange is that the place name, "La Florida," appears within the above sea, well to the north of its actual location.  The map includes the place name, "Brasil," yet does not show the Amazon River.

While no doubt an attractive engraving, the map as an aesthetic object was perhaps somewhat over-praised in Libri’s catalogue mentioned above, in which he states, regarding the portraits surrounding the map, that they were "of such an admirable fineness, that they must have been drawn by one of the greatest artists of that time.  We do not recollect having seen anything so fine in an engraving of the whole of XVIth Century."  These six portraits, three each of men and women within medallions in the highly ornate borders, are themselves mysterious.  The subjects have not been identified, but their garb and hair styles are classical Roman.  The figure at top center bears a passing resemblance to Leonardo da Vinci. 

Shirley 98; (Exhibition Catalogue--JCB) Hough, S. J. The Italians and the Creation of America, no. 106); Nordenskiold, Periplus, pp. 65-66, 159a, pls. 25 & 26; McIntosch, G. C. "The Rediscovery of Two Lost Sixteenth-Century World Maps," Imago Mundi, vol. 52, pp.158-162.

Price: $65,000.00

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