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An Early World Map with an Influential Projection

World. BORDONE, Benedetto di [Venice, 1528/ 1547]
Untitled Woodcut Map of the World. 9 ½ x 14 ¾ inches
One light stain, else xcellent condition.


Elegant world map from the second isolario (book of islands) to be printed. It is an early example of an oval-shaped world map, thought to be based on the extremely rare Roselli map of c. 1508. It is particularly resembles the Roselli in the distinctively distended shape of South America and in calling the most prominent part of North America “labortore.” However, there are important update on the Bordone: The Americas is shown as a single landmass (or nearly so); Japan is surprisingly well located ( compare with Munster’s world map, for example); and the Southern Continent has been eliminated. This world map was included in Bordone’s Isolario to aid in finding those islands whose locations would have been novel to the 16th century reader. These islands, including Japan and many of the newly discovered islands in the Americas, are keyed to the text of the atlas.
The isolario, or ‘book of islands,’ was a cartographic form introduced and developed in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries. Like the portolano, or pilot-book, to which it was related, it had its origin in the Mediterranean, as an illustrated guide for travelers in the Aegean Archipelago and the Levant. While Bordone’s Isolario was the second such work to be printed, it was the first to give prominence to the transatlantic discoveries. Skelton, in the introduction to a facsimile edition, quotes Almagia as saying that it was, in fact, “the earliest complete work of its kind to have been produced by the printing-press in Italy or anywhere else.”
Benedetto Bordone (1460-1531), a Paduan illuminator and wood engraver, was apparently established in Venice by 1494.

Shirley 59.

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