Tertia Europe Tabula

PTOLEMY, Claudius (90-168 A.D.)

Published by Petrus de Turre, 1490
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Copper-engraved map, in very good condition apart from expert repairs to left and right lower corners. A highly important and elegant map from the second edition of the 'Rome Ptolemy' This map is one of the earliest and most important printed maps of France and Belgium, being one of the trapezoidal tabulae , or regional maps of the Classical world, contained in the 1490 edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia . The image embraces an areas extending from southern England down to the Mediterranean. France is shown traversed by major rivers, and curiously features an exaggerated mountain range linking the Pyrenees with the Alps. It is most fascinating as one of the last Classical-medieval maps of France and Belgium, before the advent of modern surveying techniques would dramatically modify the cartographic appearance of the region. As part of the 1490 'Rome Ptolemy', this map was printed from the same plates used for the first edition of 1478. R.A. Skelton stated that the 1490 edition was issued 'in response to the geographical curiosity aroused by the Portuguese entry into the Indian Ocean', with Bartholemew Dias's rounding of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 (Skelton, p.X), and appropriately Christopher Columbus heavily annotated a copy of the 1478 edition. The 'Rome Ptolemy' maps occupy an extremely important place in the history of early printing, and the story of their genesis is most fascinating. It begins with Conrad Swenheym, who is widely thought to have been present at the birth of printing while an apprentice of Johann Guttenberg. After Mainz was sacked in 1462, Swenheym fled south to Italy and arrived at the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco, likely at the suggestion of the great humanist and cartographer Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa. In 1464-5, Swenheyn, in partnership with another German émigré, Arnold Pannartz, introduced the first printing press to Italy. Over the next few years, Pope Paul II was to become so enthusiastic about the new medium that he liquidated scriptoria and commissioned several newly established printers to publish vast quantities of religious and humanist texts. In 1467, Swenheym and Pannartz moved to Rome under the Pope's patronage where they printed over fifty books from their press at the Massimi Palace. Unfortunately, when the pope died in 1471, the new pontiff Sixtus IV disavowed the numerous unpaid orders of his predecessor. In this new climate, Swenheym and Pannartz elected to move away from mass printing and to rededicate their efforts to creating the first printed illustrated edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia, a work which was one of the greatest sensations of the Italian renaissance. By 1474 this immensely challenging endeavor was well under way, and Swenheym is recorded as having trained "mathematicians" to engrave maps on copper. They did, however have competition in the form of Taddeo Crivelli of Bologna, who was determined to be the first to the goal, even allegedly poaching one of Swenheym's employees who was privy to the project in Rome. Crivelli raced to complete the project, while Swenheym painstakingly guided the quality of his work, an endeavor slowed by the death of Pannartz in the plague of 1476. Crivelli's work was finally published on June 29th, 1477, making it the first printed Cosmography and the first ever set of engraved maps. Swenheym died in 1577, and the project was taken up by Arnold Buckinck, originally from Cologne, who saw the project to completion on October 10, 1478. While it may not have been the first printed edition, Rodney Shirley notes that 'The copper plates engraved at Rome . [were] much superior in clarity and craftsmanship to those of the 1477 Bologna edition . Many consider the Rome plates to be the finest Ptolemaic plates produced until Gerard Mercator engraved his classical world atlas in 1578' (Shirley p.3). Swenheym's close supervision of his engravers saw that 'The superior craftsmanship of the engraved maps in the Rome edition, by comparison with those of. Bookseller Inventory #

Bibliographic Details

Title: Tertia Europe Tabula
Publisher: Petrus de Turre
Publication Date: 1490

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