Sign In

- Or use -
Forgot Password Create Account

Second State of Paolo Forlani's rare map of Poland

First published without the title in a proof state dated 1567 (known in 2 copies), this is one of the rarest and most sought-after 16th Century maps of Poland.

The upper sheet shows the Baltic Sea and numerous northern lakes, as well as polities like the Duchy of Moscow and Livonia. The lower sheet prominently features Poland, the city of Kracow (Craconia) and the Wistula River basin. It also features Moldavia, Pomerania, Litva, Prussia, and a corner of the Black Sea.

The map is drawn from the Gastaldi-Licinio's 2 sheet map of 1562, which extends to cover all of Lithuania, Finland and Eastern Scandinavia (Il Disegno de Geografia Moderna del Regno di Polonia, e Parte del Ducado di Moscovia, con parte della Scandia , e parte de Suevia, con molte Regioni, in quelli. Et la provincia de Ustinga e quella di Severa in sino al mare maggiore.).   While Gastaldi's map has only a single title cartouche on the southern sheet, and therefore can be considered as a single map, Forlani's version has two cartouches, one per sheet.

Gastaldi's 1562 2-sheet map was largely derived from Gerard Mercator's 1554 map of Europe. The map was also likely influenced by the maps of Bernard Wapowski (1526) and Waclaw Grodecki (1548). The latter is now lost but was copied by Ortelius in 1570.    The map of the Kingdom of Poland is one of the most important maps of the region and the second earliest Lafreri school map to focus on Poland (with the Gastalid being the earliest). The map prominently featuring Poland, the city of Cracow and the Wistula River basin.

The Kingdom of Poland

The territory of the modern state of Poland has a long history of political and ruling configurations. The entity that ruled Poland when this map was made was the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, also known as the Polish Crown, which lasted from the Medieval period to 1569, just after the map was published.

The creation of the Kingdom of Poland is usually dated to ca. 966, a date that marks the Baptism of Poland. This is when the pagan Slavia holdings of Mieszko I joined Christian Europe. Mieszko’s son, Boleslaw I Chrobry, was crowned the first King of Poland in 1025.

Poland and Lithuania were initially bound in the Union of Krewo in 1385. This personal union was further cemented in the Union of Lublin in 1569. This second union formed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and transformed Poland into an elective monarchy.

The map is quite rare, especially as a joined two-sheet item. OCLC notes examples in the British Library, BNF, and the Leiden University Library. This is only the second time we have offered the map in thirty years.


The map is exceedingly rare on the market.

This is the first example we have ever seen offered for sale, with no examples listed in AMPR or Rare Book Hub.


The Lafreri School

The Lafreri School is a commonly used name for a group of mapmakers, engravers, and publishers who worked in Rome and Venice from ca. 1544 to 1585. The makers, who were loosely connected via business partnerships and collaborations, created maps that were then bound into composite atlases; the maps would be chosen based on the buyer or compiler’s interests. As the maps were initially published as separate-sheets, the style and size of maps included under the umbrella of the “School” differed widely. These differences can also be seen in the surviving Lafreri atlases, which have maps bound in with varying formats including as folded maps, maps with wide, trimmed, or added margins, smaller maps, etc.

The most famous mapmakers of the School included Giacomo Gastaldi and Paolo Forlani, among others. The School’s namesake, Antonio Lafreri, was a map and printseller. His 1572 catalog of his stock, entitled Indice Delle Tavole Moderne Di Geografia Della Maggior Parte Del Mondo, has a similar title to many of the composite atlases and thus his name became associated with the entire output of the larger group.

Paolo Forlani Biography

Paolo Forlani (fl. ca. 1560-1571) was a prolific map engraver based in Venice. All that is known of his life are his surviving maps and prints, of which there are almost 100 (185 with later states included in the total). He also produced a globe and two town books.  It is likely he came from Verona and that he died in Venice in the mid-1570s, possibly of the plague.