One of the Earliest Obtainable Maps of Cuba
Early state of one of the earliest separately published maps of Cuba (and Jamaica), which first appeared in the 1561 edition of Ruscelli's edition of Ptolemy's Geografia.
The map includes the "Ys: de Lagartos", a very briefly used name for the Cayman islands. A 1523 map showing all three islands gave them the name Lagartos, meaning alligators or large lizards, but by 1526, the name Caymans was already being used.
Ruscelli's atlas is essentially an enlarged edition of the very rare Gastaldi edition of 1548. The atlas was first published in 1561, with revised editions in 1574 and again in 1598. It was in this final edition Ruscelli added additional modern maps and reworked most of the plates, adding ships and sea monsters to many of the maps.
Girolamo Ruscelli (1500-1566) was a cartographer, humanist, and scholar from Tuscany. Ruscelli was a prominent writer and editor in his time, writing about a wide variety of topics including the works of Giovanni Boccaccio and Francesco Petrarch, Italian language, Italian poetry, medicine, alchemy, and militia. One of his most notable works was a translation of Ptolemy’s Geographia which was published posthumously.
There is limited information available about Ruscelli’s life. He was born in the Tuscan city of Viterbo to a family of modest means. He was educated at the University of Padua and moved between Rome and Naples until 1548, when he moved to Naples to work in a publishing house as a writer and proofreader. He remained in the city until his death in 1566.