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Rare Lafreri School Map of Iceland

Rare early map of Iceland, originally engraved by Giovanni Francesco Camocio in Venice in ca. 1568.

The south-oriented map is closely framed around the island, with stippled seas and icebergs in the surrounding area. The land is filled with mountains and volcanoes. There are several settlements and tents strewn across the landscape, as well as many lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. The rectangular pillars are stone blocks inscribed with writing.

The map is based on Olaus Magnus’ Carta Marina (1539). Magnus likely gathered his information on Iceland from Hanseatic merchants who traded with the island, as well as in sources like Adam of Bremen and Saxo Grammaticus. Magnus added more place names and had the most realistic shape of the island to that date.

The inscription in the upper left corner describes the island’s size and inhabitants. In the lower corners are two empty coats of arms, which indicates the state of this map.

States of the map

This map was initially published lacking both date and editorial information in its first state. It is based upon the cartographic information in Donato Bertelli's map of Iceland and is presumed to be authored by Camocio based upon the addition of his address in the third state.

The map is easily distinguished from the Bertelli, which is more heavily embellished in the seas around the island. The first state of the plate is known only through the example of the Studienbibliothek Dillingen, which includes a coat of arms at the bottom with a tower. This is removed in the second state, leaving both coats of arms at the bottom empty. The third state, with the Camocio imprint, is known only from evidence contained in the Doria Atlas and in the Atlas Aragon.

This final state is cut down by a few millimeters on each side, and was included in the Isole Famose collection by Camocio. These are posthumous copies, printed by Donato Bertelli after the death of Camocio (1575).  

Bifolco Ronco #254; Reynir Finndal Gretarsson, Maps of Iceland: Antique Maps of Iceland 1482 to 1850 (Crymogea, 2017).