Caelestem Hic Terram Inspicias Terrestre Q[uam] Caelum. C./ BERLINGHIERI PTOLEMY, F.

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One of the Earliest Acquirable World Maps
[Florence, c. 1478-82]

Caelestem Hic Terram Inspicias Terrestre Q[uam] Caelum.

16 x 21 inches, Two sheets joined, measuring together . Scuffed area near centerfold with minor reinstatement of printed surface, slightly trimmed as is commonly found, very good.

One of the earliest and rarest printed world maps; the first to be published in northern Italy.  The Berlinghieri is certainly the rarest of the early Ptolemiac world maps, aside from the unobtainable 1477 Bologna edition.  It is also the only early Ptolemaic world map to employ the same projection used by Ptolemy-- the equal-area or homeotheric projection. 

Shirley praises the “clear and commendable elegance” of the map’s engraving.  One is especially struck by its graphic sophistication that produces a clean, open, even modern look.  The elegant but simple Roman capital letters of the typeface make for high readability.  The 12 windheads with flowing hair that surround the map are vigorously presented. Shirley suggests that the engraver might have been Francesco Rosselli; the windheads on his own c. 1492-93 world map bear a definite resemblance to those here.

It is known that the plates for the maps of Berlinghieri’s edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia were prepared before the publication of the atlas in 1482.  Nordenskiold places the date as early as 1472, which would make this indeed the earliest printed world map (discounting the diagramatic T-O maps).  However, more recent estimates place the date of the plates’ preparation anywhere from one to four years prior to 1482.  The map would, therefore, pre-date the Ulm edition maps of 1482 and possibly be contemporaneous with those of the Rome edition of 1478.

* Shirley 9; Norderskiold, Facsimile Atlas, pp. 12-14; Fite & Freeman, A Book of Old Maps, Map 1; T. Campbell, The Earliest Printed Maps, pp. 133-34.


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