SOLD: 1561 Ruscelli - Carta marina nuova tavola

SOLD: Rare first state of Ruscelli's world sea chart


Carta marina nuova tavola

Map maker:

Girolamo Ruscelli (Giacomo Gastaldi)

Place and Year:

Venice, 1561


17.5 x 24 cm (6.8 x 9.3 in)


Copperplate engraving



Condition Rating:


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This is the rare first state of Ruscelli’s world sea chart included in his translation of Ptolemy’s Geographia, printed by Vincenzo Valgrisi. Ruscelli's map is a slightly enlarged version of the map which appeared in Gastaldi's edition of Ptolemy thirteen years earlier. It features a stipple-engraved sea and numerous rhumb lines radiating from seventeen focal points. The only change seems to be the omissions of the names Tierra Del Laborador and Tierra Del Bacalaos.

The map contains only minimal interior detail but includes several important ports and trading posts including, Zanzibar on the east coast of Africa and Cambay, one of India’s two main ocean ports, visited by Marco Polo in 1293. The Magellan Strait, at the southern tip of South America is labelled and Tierra del Fuego is shown as a very large island.

North America and Asia are connected to form a single immense continent; North America and Europe are connected via Greenland. In this way, the map presents a jumbled mix of various contemporary cartographic ideas, including the thin Greenland peninsula as an extension of Scandinavia, as well as Verrazzano's mistaken notions of a North American inland sea.  Depicted across the fictitious connection between North America and Greenland is labeled Tangut: where Marco Polo met the messengers of Kublai Khan. Confusingly, however, across the continent (India Superior) to the east is the place name La China, a very early appearance of this term.

The map appeared in 1562, 1564, 1574 and in Giuseppe Rosaccio's expanded edition of Girolamo Russelli's Geografia in 1598 and 1599. Girolamo Ruscelli's edition of Ptolemy's Geographia included newly engraved copperplates by Giulio and Livio Sanuto.

A curious fact is that this map is one of two that were engraved on the same plate, printed and then separated for the book. This can be seen in the atlas by the fact that the plate mark of the map runs off the top of the page. In 1574 a new plate was used which lasted until the final edition of 1599.

Verso text: Italian.


A fairly good impression, excellent condition with slight paper discoloration at centerfold.




Shirley, Rodney W. The Mapping of the World: Early Printed World Maps, 1472-1700. London: Holland Press, 1983, #111.

Suárez, Thomas. Shedding the Veil: Mapping the European Discovery of America and the World. Singapore: World Scientific, 1992, #24, p. 86-7.

Burden p. 34, Schilder p.123.


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