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1587 Ortelius six maps in one: Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, Corfu, Elba, and Djerba

Place/Date: Antwerp / 1587
Title: Insularum Aliquot Maris Mediterranei Descriptio
36 x 47.5 cm (14.2 x 18.7 in)
Hand color
Condition Rating


From the rare French edition (estimated only 250 copies), this is six early maps of Mediterranean islands on one sheet: Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, Corfu, Elba, and Djerba (Zerbi).

The bigger islands need no introduction, but perhaps Djerba and Elba are less well known. Djerba is an island off the coast of Tunisia. It is said to be the mythical location of the lotus-eaters in The Odyssey. The local architecture has a distinctive style that influenced the makers of Star Wars. The mountain range shown in this map is invented; the island is basically flat, with an average elevation of 20 meters and a high point of 53 meters.

For its part, one interesting chapter in the history of Elba occurred in 1814, when Napoleon was sent there in exile. He stayed on the island for about a year before the famous period of the Hundred Days, which included the War of the Seventh Coalition, the Neapolitan War, as well as several other minor campaigns. With his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon was once again exiled, this time to the remote Atlantic island of St. Helena.

Several of the maps include ships at sail. The map of Malta depicts a sinking ship at Cala di S. Paulo, where Saint Paul is supposed to have shipwrecked and landed.


Abraham Ortelius

Abraham Ortelius was a cartographer and geographer, conventionally recognized as the creator of the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). He was one of the most notable figures of the Dutch school of cartography during its golden age (approximately 1570s–1670s).

Condition Description

Some paper toning. Nice, wide margins; heavy paper with a watermark of what looks to be a crown.


Van den Broecke 141.

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