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Number: 648
Continent: Africa
Region: Continent
Place Names:
Year of Origin: 1554
Title: Prima Tavola
Language: Latin
Publish Origin: Venice
Size Class.: Medium
Color Type: No Color
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Cartographer: Giacomo Gastaldi
Publisher: Giovanni Battista Ramusio
Other Contributors: Leo (Leonis) Africanus
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Notes: Suarez; Betz number 4.0; 1st ed woodblock map; This woodblock map appeared only in the second edition of Volume I of Ramusio's "Delle Navigationi et Viaggi in 1554 [the 1st book edition 1550 did not contain this map]; A fire in the Thomaso Giunti print shop in November 1557 likely destroyed the woodblocks that produced this map. Similar cooperplate maps were published in the 1556 Lyon edition of Leo Africanus,published by J. Temporal, and a separate 1565 edition of this map by Ferrando Bertelli in a Lafreri Atlas (Afriterra catalog # 1249); Ramusio's "Navigationi et viaggi" heavily influenced Gastaldi's geography of this map, which is considered to be far superior to all previous maps of Africa. Gastaldi was "Cosmographer to the Venetian Republic, then a world power of commerce and trade. He sought the most up to date geographical information available, and became one of the greatest cartographers of the sixteenth century" (Burden). Giacomo Gastaldi was, and styled himself, 'Piemontese', and this epithet appears often after his name. Born at the end of the fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century, he does not appear in any records until 1539, when the Venetian Senate granted him a privilege for the printing of a perpetual calendar. His first dated map appeared in 1544, by which time he had become an accomplished engineer and cartographer. Gastaldi's early contact with the celebrated geographical editor, Giovanni Battista Ramusio, and his involvement with the latter's work, "Navigationi et Viaggi" (of which we have a complete copy of volume I), prompted him to take to cartography as a full-time occupation. Gastaldi was also helped by Ramusio's connections with the Senate, to which he was secretary, and the favourable attitude towards geography and geographers in Venice at the time. Giovanni Baptista Ramusio was Secretary to the Council of Ten in Venice for 43 years. His collection of reports on voyages is among the most important works of the period, including the early reports of travels by Leo Africanus; Tibbett 28; Karrow 30/91; Betz;
Last updated: Jan 15, 2020