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An Extremely Rare, Early Woodcut World Map

World. GIRAVA, J. De [Milan, 1556]
Typo De La Carta Cosmographica De Gaspar Vopellio Medeburgense. . 11 x 16 inches
Left margin extended but no loss of printed surface, minor mend bottom margin, strong impression, else excellent.


A beautiful, bright example of this very rare, striking cordiform, woodcut world map. Girava based this work on a now lost, multi-sheet, 1545 wall map by Caspar Vopell, as noted in the legend below the map. A tantalizing note in the Southern Continent states it was sighted in 1499, giving rise to, as Shirley points out, much speculation as to its source. Another note in the South Pacific refers to Balboa’s discovery of that ocean in 1513. Although rudimentary in execution, the map is nevertheless one of the earliest acquirable world maps to show a much expanded North America, though here clearly merged with Asia. As if to make absolutely clear the mapmaker’s conviction that America and Asia comprise a single landmass, the place name “Asia oriental” can be seen just west of “Tierra De Baccalaos.”
Girava’s work undeniably echoes Martin Waldseemuller’s wall map of the world of 1507, known in a single example. Girava used the same cordiform projection—one of the few world maps to do so--as well as adopted the same motif above the map of two geographers holding the tools of their trade as found on the Waldseemuller map. However, pictured on the Girava are the classical geographers, Solinus to the left and Strabo to the right, while Waldseemuller illustrated Ptolemy and Vespucci. The map is surrounded by twelve well-cut windheads, all shown expelling wind, and constellation charts adorn the lower left and right hand corners.

Shirley 101; The World Encompassed 122; Nordenskiold, Facsimile Atlas, p. 88a, plate XLV (4).

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