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1534 Benedetto Bordone
$ 650.00

One of the Earliest Printed Representations of the Island of Hispaniola

Fine example of Bordone's map of “Spagnola,” better known as Hispaniola. It is from his important Isolario and is one of the earliest printed maps of any portion of the New World.

The map is an inset within a page of text, with text on the verso as well. The island is centered within the inset. The compass rose interestingly is drawn through and around the island, with north at the top and Greek letters and symbols indicating the other directions.

The island itself is labeled “Spagnola”. Mountains and streams are indicated in the interior, as is the settlement of Isabella, which was founded by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. Buildings are scattered throughout the island, suggesting that Europeans had already spread their influence and culture.

The Isolario

The map appeared in Benedetto Bordone’s influential atlas of islands, the Isolario. It is also an early, important work in that it covers the modern world with little cartographic reference to Ptolemy’s influence. The Isolario was also one of the first atlases to include numerous maps of the New World, with many high-resolution maps of Caribbean islands and South American regions. This map, for example, is one of the earliest printed maps of the island of Hispaniola.

The Isolario was first published in Venice in 1528 by Nicolo d’Aristotile detto Zoppino under the title of Libro di Benedetto Bordone nel qual si ragiona de tutte l’isole del mondo. The second edition of 1534, also published by Zoppino, was when the book was named the Isolario di Benedetto Bordone nel qual si ragiona de tuttte l’isole del mondo. It is the most prominent example of what was a popular genre in Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Each island was described extensively and accompanied by a map. Hispaniola’s description explained the appearance of the island and Columbus’ influence. Other islands, like the mythical island of Brazil, detailed places that never actually existed.

The Isolario was an important milestone in geographic publishing and the map of Hispaniola, then the most important island in the Caribbean, is a significant document in the island’s cartographic history.

Condition Description
Minor soiling.
Anastasia Stouraiti, “Talk, Script and Print: The Making of Island Books in Early Modern Venice”, Historical Research 86, no. 232 (2013): 207-229.
Benedetto Bordone Biography

Benedetto Bordone (1460-1531) was a polymath who was born in Padua and worked in Venice. He was an illuminator, engraver, miniaturist, editor, and geographer. It is possible he made the first globe in Italy. His most famous work is the Isolario, or Book of Islands, which included many of the earliest printed maps of islands in the New World.

Bordone, a prominent Venetian manuscript editor, miniaturist, and cartographer, was born in Padua, a city that was then part of the Republic of Venice. Although his exact date of birth remains unknown, historical records indicate that his parents married in Padua in 1442, and he himself was married in 1480. Bordone's contributions to the field of cartography, particularly through his seminal work, Isolario, have cemented his legacy as a pivotal figure in the Renaissance cartographic tradition.

Bordone's most renowned work, Isolario (The Book of Islands), printed in Venice in 1528, is a comprehensive compilation that describes all the known islands of the world. The book offers detailed accounts of each island's folklore, myths, cultures, climates, geographical situations, and historical narratives. It stands as a testament to the popularity of the isolario genre in 15th and 16th century Italy and serves as an illustrated guide for sailors, incorporating the era's latest transatlantic discoveries.

One of the notable features of Isolario is an oval depiction of the world, a map type invented by Bordone. This innovation was later formalized into the equal-area elliptical Mollweide projection three centuries afterward. Bordone's map portrays a distorted view of the New World, showing only the northern regions of South America and depicting North America as a large island labeled Terra del Laboratore (Land of the Worker), a likely reference to the region's active slave trade during that period, which also influenced the name Labrador.

The book also contains the earliest known printed account of Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru, making it a significant historical document. Among the numerous woodcut maps included in Isolario, twelve are dedicated to the Americas. These maps feature a plan of "Temistitan" (Tenochtitlan, modern Mexico City) before its destruction by Hernán Cortés, and a map of Ciampagu, the earliest known European-printed map of Japan depicted as an island.

Benedetto Bordone's familial connections are also of interest; he is reputed to have been the father of Julius Caesar Scaliger, a noted classical scholar, and the grandfather of Joseph Justus Scaliger, who is recognized as the founder of the science of historical chronology. The original maps from Bordone's Isolario are highly valued today for their historical significance and intricate craftsmanship. Through his work, Bordone has left an indelible mark on the history of cartography, providing invaluable insights into the geographical knowledge and cultural perceptions of his time.