By: Giovanni Battista Ramusio
Date: 1556 / 1606 (published) Venice
Dimensions: 11.5 x 12.5 inches (29.25 x 31.75 cm)
A spectacular map of the Western Hemisphere and one that should be considered for any serious Americana collection. Ramusio's map is not only an excellent depiction of the 16th century European knowledge of the New World, but a first and/or early recognition of many places, both real and imaginary, throughout the Americas.
In North America we find the familiar regions of Terra del Labrador and La Florida along the eastern seaboard, along with Terra de Bacalaos, which first appeared in a small world map by Petrus Apians (1544) as Baccalearum. This name refers to the abundance of cod first discovered by the Portuguese and then exploited by several other European powers in the centuries to follow. Much of the North American continent appear mountainous and the northwestern portion is left blank to signify unknown parts of the world.
Early Place Names and Important Cities Show in the Map
It is in the southwestern portion of North America that we find several place names, many of which appear on a printed map for the first time. Quivira, Cicuic, Axa, Cucho, Cibola and Tiguas can all be found and are derived from the travels of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado between 1540 and 1542. Out in the Atlantic, the island of Bermuda is named for the first time on a map of the new world. Other cities identified on the map worth noting include Tenochtitlan, depicted here as Mexico city, but still located in the middle of lake Lake Texcoco, Trujillo (Chan Chan) located in Peru, was of the first cities in the Americas founded by the Spanish conquistadors, and of course, the capital of the Incan empire, Cusco.
Important Geographical Depictions
In North America, we can easily locate Florida, but the peninsular shape of what we are accustomed to seeing is not present. While Munster's map of the Americas pre-dates the first state of Ramusio's map more closely compares to earlier maps by Gastaldi and Apian, especially in its depiction of Florida. In the far western portion of the Pacific, we find the island Giapan. Again comparing Ramusio's map to Munster's depiction of the Americas, it easy to decide who was more accurate as Munster depicts Japan much larger and just off the west coast of North America.
In South America, Rio Maragnon runs from the Mountains of Chili through of Peru and Brazil to the Atlantic. Rio Maragnon was more commonly known as Marañón and would later be named the Amazon for the fierce female warriors encountered by the Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco de Orellana in 1542. At the bottom of the South American continent we find the Strait of Magellan, aptly named for the famous explorer who crossed through the strait with his five ships in 1520. The southern coast of the strait appears as part of the great southern continent, commonly known as Terra Australis and would remain depicted in this way in maps until Sir Frances Drake would visit the region in the late 1570s.
Condition: Map is in A+ condition with some very light foxing along the centerfold and most easily visible on the verso. The imprint is dark and the paper is bright with full margins all around and no tears or holes.
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