“A beautiful and significant little map”—Wheat

First separately printed map of the Gulf Coast, Mexico, and the Southwestern United States

Martin & Martin 3

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300. [MAP]. [GASTALDI, Jacopo]. Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova. [Venice, 1548]. Line-engraved copperplate map, seas in undulating lines. Neat line to neat line: 12.5 x 17.1 cm; neat line to neat line with title at top: l3.2 x 17.1 cm; overall sheet size: 16.2 x 25.2 cm. Italian text on verso commencing: “*Della Nova Hispania*” Impression somewhat light, two tiny holes at lower center of image, fold on verso lightly browned, but overall a very good copy of a rare and important map.

     First separately printed map of the Gulf Coast, Mexico, and the Southwestern United States, from the first small-format atlas designed with travellers in mind. Antochiw, Historia Cartográfica de Peninsula de Yucatán, p. 50, Portfolio #19. Burden 17 [notes partially from Burden’s 16, for the same atlas]:

This map is the second Geography published by Gastaldi relating to North America in the Italian edition of Ptolemy’s Geography published by Gastaldi. Not until Cornelius Wytfliet’s Hispanola Nova, 1597, was this area covered in as much detail.... The Spanish had been exploring this region for some time. R. Tontonteanc here represents either the Colorado River or the Gila.Ruscelli enlarged it for his edition of Ptolemy’s work [see herein]. [From Burden 16:] This marks a turning point, from now on the majority of cartographic works used this medium [copper-plate engraving]. As it was a harder material than wood it gave the engraver the ability to render more detail. Born in Villafranca, Piedmont, Gastaldi became Cosmographer to the Venetian Republic, then a powerhouse of commerce and trade. He sought the most up-to-date geographical information available, and [he] became one of the greatest cartographers of the sixteenth century.

Kapp, Central America 1. Karrow, Mapmakers of the Sixteenth Century and their Maps, pp. 216-249. Martin & Martin, Plate 3 (showing the later version by Ruscelli, with Yucatán as part of the continent) & p. 18 re Gastaldi: “Exemplified a lack of hard data”; p. 69: “Master Italian cartographer Jacopo Gastaldi working from Münster’s and using his maps as a source, produced a new edition of Ptolemy’s Geography. In this work Gastaldi abandoned the woodcut and engraved the maps, producing the first set of maps on copper [and] the first set of engraved maps since the 1508 edition of Ptolemy, including the first map specifically devoted to New Spain. It was a notable improvement over previous depictions of the area.” Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast II #18 (p. 278). Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West Vol. I, #7 & p. 20: “On it appeared certain of the Niza place names that had been used by that cartograper two centuries earlier, notably Civola, Tabursa, and R. Tontonteanc, and an additional one, S. Franc. It is a beautiful and significant little map.” Winsor, Ptolemy, p. 24. See also California 49: Forty-Nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present, Maps 3 & 4 (a few notes on Gastaldi).

     The map is from Ptolemy’s La Geografia.... (Venice: Niccolo Bascarini for Giovanni Battista Pedrezano, 1548; see Phillips 369), the first to contain a series of regional maps of America. The map was never reprinted from this plate, which shows Yucatán as an island. Skelton, Decorative Printed Maps, p. 43: “Gastaldi stands out among his contemporaries for geographical originality, for fertility, and for his technical brilliance as cartographic draftsman and engraver.”

     This map was from the only atlas that Gastaldi ever produced. Later issues from 1561 on were completely re-engraved. Aside from Wytfliet’s map of 1597, this map in its various states is the only separate map of these regions that appeared before the eighteenth century. Gastaldi’s maps are distinguished by precision of line, restrained decoration, and lettering of great clarity and beauty. Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers, Vol. II, 143-143: [Suggested dates of c. 1500-1566]: “Italian astronomer, cartographer, and engineer.... By 1540 he had developed his own distinctive style for his own increasingly prolific output of maps.”


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