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One of the Earliest Obtainable Modern Maps of Southeast Asia and The Philippine Islands

Fine example of Giacomo Gastaldi's 1548 map of Southeast Asia, one of the earliest obtainable modern maps of Southeast Asia and the Philippines.

Gastaldi's map is an entirely new modern regional map of Southeast Asia, composed from a number of contemporary modern sources. Gastaldi bases his map on his own 1546 world map, and the account of the Italian explorer Varthema who had reached the Moluccas in 1505, disembarking on the island of Momoch (probably Ternate). Gastaldi also incorporates the discoveries made by the surviving members of Magellan's circumnavigation in 1521. The identification of a number of islands on the map are derived from Portuguese sources, reflecting their active trade with the islands soon after their conquest of Malacca in 1511 and the discovery of the Spice Islands in 1512.

Gastaldi's map would become the source map for Ruscelli's map of 1561 and incorporated into a number of other maps in the 17th Century.

Gastaldi's maps are considered important early maps for regional collectors.

Giacomo Gastaldi

Giacomo Gastaldi (c. 1500-66) was one of the most important Italian mapmakers of the early 16th Century. Gastaldi was the first of a number of Italian mapmakers, mostly active in Rome and Venice, who were responsible for the production of the first widely distributed modern maps of all parts of the World (although primarily focusing on Italy). The maps were issued separately, but were also assembled both by booksellers and early owners into bound composite atlases. These maps have come to be known as Lafreri maps, because in the 1570s, the bookseller and publisher Antonio Lafreri of Rome, produced such composite atlases, in which he included a title page with his name as the publisher. While there are a number of surviving examples of these Lafreri Atlases in institutions, these compilations are very rare and no two examples have identical contents.

Gastaldi's prepared a new and unique set of maps for the 1548 edition of Claudius Ptolemy's ' Geographia. This set of maps is among the earliest examples of his work, in a long and distinguished career. This edition was the first pocket-sized edition and incorporated a number of new modern maps for regions which had previously never been included in an atlas. Despite being prepared on a small format, the maps are clearly and attractively engraved. Gastaldi was the first to add regional maps of the American continent, with important maps of the eastern seaboard, a map of what is now the southern United States, of South America, and separate maps of Cuba and Hispaniola. Gastaldi published only a single edition, but his maps were copied by Girolomo Ruscelli for over 50 years.

Karrow, R.W. (16 c.) 30/56; Quirino p. 29; Suarez, T. (SE Asia) chap.11, fig.73.
Giacomo Gastaldi Biography

Giacomo Gastaldi (1500-1566) is considered the foremost Italian cartographer of the sixteenth century, alongside Paolo Forlani. His skills of compilation are comparable to those of Mercator and Ortelius, yet much less is known of his life than of his two contemporaries. Gastaldi was born in Villafranca, Piedmont, but had established himself in Venice by 1539. He originally worked as an engineer, but turned to mapmaking from the 1540s onward.

It was in Venice where he made his reputation as an engraver, geographer, and cosmographer; for example, he was asked to fresco maps of Asia and Africa in the Palace of the Doge, or the Council of Ten, Venice’s governmental body. He also frequently consulted on projects for the Savi sopra la Laguna, drawing maps for this body which oversaw the regulation of fresh and salt water around Venice. 

His contemporaries also recognized his skill, as he was named cosmographer to the Republic of Venice, was a member of the Accademia Veneziana, and was a major source for other geographers and mapmakers including Camocio, Bertelli, Cock, Luchini, and Ortelius. He even had his own distinct style of copper engraving that made him a pioneer in his day and makes his works iconic today.

Gastaldi enjoyed an especially productive relationship with Giovanni Battista Ramusio, Secretary of the Venetian Senate, who used Gastaldi's maps for his famous travel account collection, Navigationi et Viaggi. Gastaldi also tutored Ramusio's son in cosmography.