Very rare first edition of Ramusio's (Mezzo Di) map of Africa (extending south to the Tropic of Capricorn). Ramusio was Secretary to the Council of Ten in Venice for 43 years and his collection of reports on voyages is among the most important works of the period. This map appeared in the second edition of I of Ramusio's Della Navigationi et Viaggi in 1554. It was planned as the centerpiece of a three sheet map extending to SE Asia and China, compiled for Ramusio by the famous cartographer, Giacomo Gastaldi. The information to produce this map was based on knowledge obtained from Arab geographers (including Idrisi) and Portuguese discoveries. A fire in the Ramusio print shop in November 1557 destroyed all the woodblock maps for the work, except this plate. The map shows North at the bottom of the map and is centered on the course of the Niel, which has its primary source in two lakes in Southern Africa. The map extends south to the Tropic of Capricorn and Isola Di S. Lorenzo (Madagascar). The Saudi Peninsula, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are also shown, as is Mecca. Curiously, the map is not referenced in either Tooley or Norwich. I fine example of this rare first state of the map, with the 3 pages of accompanying text entitled Discorso Sopra Il Crescer Del Fiume Nilo. Striking dark impression.
Giovanni Battista Ramusio (1485-1557) was an Italian geographer who worked within the Venetian Empire. His father had been a magistrate and he himself served as a civil servant to Venice. He served throughout Europe, allowing him to build up a network of informants and a collection of travel materials. He compiled this information into his enduring masterpiece, Navigationi et Viaggi, in 1555 (first volume) and 1556 (third volume). The second volume appeared after his death in 1559, as the original manuscript had been destroyed by a fire.