THE FIRST SEPARATE MAP OF NORTH AMERICA
IL Disegno del discoperto della noua Franza, il quale s’e hauuto ulti- mamente dalle nouissima nauigatione de’ Franzesi in quel luogo: Nel quale si uedono tutti l’Isole, Porti, Capi et luoghi fra terra che in quella sono
10-¾” x 15-¾”. Excellent condition, strong impression. Trimmed close to the neat line in the 16th century, with margins extended so the map will fit into a Lafreri atlas.
America began to define itself geographically in the printing shops of Venice during the middle decades of the sixteenth century. Venetian maps published between 1560 and 1570 incorporated the latest geographical information and were artfully engraved. Today they are among the most highly sought after of all collectable maps.
The map being offered here is the very first to focus on North America and to show it as an entirely separate continent. Published in Venice in 1566, this is the second edition of the map with the imprint of Bolognini Zaltieri; the first edition was published by Paolo Forlani.
“Zaltieri’s map,” wrote Carl Wheat, “was a work of art that represented an important epoch in the history of cartography in respect of Western North America.” It is one of the earliest to show the mythical Strait of Anian dividing America from the continent of Asia. The Portuguese explorer Joao Cabrillo sailed up the California coast in 1542-3 and his findings and place names are on the map along with those of Francisco de Ulloa’s trip in 1539-40 to the head of the Gulf of California. Many of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s discoveries in the interior of the continent are also included.
The map was published when Venice was at its zenith as the map-publishing center of the world. Professor David Woodward has calculated that “the peak in Venice for map publishing occurred around 1566.” That is the very year when Zaltieri published this rare map of North America. In the great age of discovery, Italians had taken the leading role in exploration and cartography, beginning in the 13th century with Marco Polo. Such Italians as Columbus, Vespucci, Cabot and Verrazano are responsible for most of mapping of America’s east coast.
Stretching across the top of the map is the Mare Setenrionale, with its unobstructed route across America to Asia. If Zaltieri’s map had correctly delineated this northwest-passage, many of the navigational problems facing European merchants would have been solved. Once the merchant ship had sailed across the top of America, it would be a short voyage through the Strait of Anian to the Gulf of China. A little below that gulf, right off the California coast, Zaltieri had located Asia’s greatest prize – Japan (Giapan on the map).
Woodward, “The Forlani Map of North America”, Imago Mundi #46, pp. 29-40; Tooley, “Maps in Italian Atlases of the Sixteenth Century”, Imago Mundi #3, pp. 12-47, #81; Beans, “The Two States of the Zaltieri North America”, Imago Mundi #14, pp. 112-13; Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 28-30; Woodward, The Maps and Prints of Paolo Forlani, p. 25, #37.01; Burden, The Mapping of North America, #33, state 1.
Inventory No. 8527