Sylvanus' map of the region east of the Caspian Sea is one of the earliest obtainable maps of the region and the first printed in two colors. The map appeared in Sylvanus' Claudii Ptholemaei Alexandrini liber Geographicae . . ., publish in Venice in 1511. The Sylvanus edition of Ptolemy is one of the earliest to include maps with modern geographical updates. The map has been printed on two leaves, which have here been rejoined and backed with Japan paper on the verso, with several minor areas of loss skillfully repaired. A nice example of a map which very rarely appears on the market.
Bernardus Sylvanus (Bernardo Silvano) was born around 1465 in Eboli, a small agricultural town near Salerno in southern Italy. He began studying Ptolemy around 1490, when he was living in Naples. At this time he ran a print shop or studio, producing maps and codices. It was here that he produced his first edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia in 1490, which he dedicated to Andrea Matteo Acquaviva, the third Duke of Atri. For this edition Sylvanus used coordinates and text from Jacopo d’Angelo’s translation, and copied the maps from a Roman printed edition of either 1478 or 1490 (both printed from the same plates). Sylvanus’ 1511 Venice edition of the Geographia built on his prior work, but was groundbreaking in several regards. It was the only edition to add modern updates directly into Ptolemy’s maps, the only edition at the time to print maps on both sides of the leaf, the first edition printed in two colors, and the first Italian edition to use woodblocks. Nothing is known of Sylvanus’ life after the publication of this edition.