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Francesco Berlinghieri:  [World] Caelestem Hic Terram Inspicias Terrestre Que Caelum

Maps of the World

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Title: [World] Caelestem Hic Terram Inspicias Terrestre Que Caelum

Map Maker: Francesco Berlinghieri

Place / Date: Florence / 1482

Coloring: Uncolored

Size: 16.5 x 22.5 inches

Condition: VG

Price: $150,000.00

Inventory ID: 46371rs


One of the Earliest Obtainable World Maps

Striking example of Francesco Berlinghieri's pre-Columbian map of the World, first published about 1482.

Printed only 10 years after the first world map, a small crude T-O map based upon the tradition of a Holy Land centered world.  Berlinghierii's map is one of the earliest obtainable World maps, pre-dated only by the Bologna Ptolemy World map of 1477 (generally considered unobtainable) and the Rome Ptolemy World map of 1478.  The map is based upon the work of Claudius Ptolemy in the second century AD, and includes 12 windheads identifying the direction of the 12 pointed compass.

In his treatise on the mapping of the world, Shirley noted that Berlinghieri's world map “is strictly classical. It is drawn according to Ptolemy’s own equal-area projection and the engraving is clear and of commendable elegance”.

The map was printed using two separate copper plates, which were separated with sufficient space to allow for a fold and the stitching of the map into a bound atlas of maps, without impacting the content of the map.

While Berlingheri's maps are the third earliest (pre-dated by editions of 1477 (Bologna) and 1478 (Rome)), his maps are of the highest importance for a number of reasons.  First, the maps are based upon the projections of Marinus of Tyre, a second century AD Greek geographer, cartographer and mathematician, who is credited as the founder of mathematical geography, a system which would have been employed by Claudius Ptolemy at the time Ptolemy originally constructed his Geographia.

Berlingheri's maps are also unique in that they were the first printed maps in an edition of Ptolemy to utilize a style which is notably different from the Nicholas Germanicus model and to adopt a different means for projecting the printed landmasses represented on the maps.   The maps were engraved by Niccolò Tedesco, a German printer (employing Marinus of Tyre's equidistant meridians and parallels).  The maps also have rectangular borders rather than the trapezoidal borders employed in the earlier Bologna and Rome editions (and also the Ulm edition of 1482-1486).  

The maps are also believed by some experts to be the earliest cartographic work of Francesco Rosselli, the most important Florentine mapmaker of the the late 15th and early 16th Centuries.

Francesco Berlinghieri

Francesco Berlinghieri (1440-1501) was a Florentine engraver.  Nicolas Laurentii published Berlinghieri's edition of  Ptolemy, which was written in Italian terza rima, comprising 123 folios of text and 31 engraved maps.  The work was first printed in 1482, but most surviving examples come from the edition of 1486, which was the first edition to include red printing in the title page.   The full title is Geographia. In Questo Volume Si Congengono Septe Giornate Della Geographia Di Francesco Berlingeri Fiorentino Allo Illustrissimo Federigo Duca . . .

Berlinghieri's edition of Ptolemy is unique, in that it includes 31 maps covering Europe, northern Africa and the south part of Asia and is the first atlas to attempt the introduction of modern geography, with the inclusion of four new maps - France, Italy, Spain and Palestine, which are based on contemporary knowledge, rather than a strict plotting of Ptolemy's coordinates.  A number of other maps in the Berlinghieri edition of Ptolemy include data which is drawn from modern sources, albeit more subtly so, in part because of transcription errors and in part because of corrections made over time by later scholars.

While Berlinghieri's atlas was the third Italian printed edition of Ptolemy, it was very important in other respects.  Berlinghieri's Ptolemaic regional maps are drawn on Marinus' plane projection; and although not generally considered an edition of Ptolemy, the maps are the only examples of Ptolemy's maps to be drawn on the original projection, with equidistant meridians and parallels.  Berlinghieri's work was also the first to include a printed Gazetteer for each of the maps.  The text by Berlingheiri is a metrical paraphrase of Ptolemy, the first atlas in the Italian language.

Francesco Berlinghieri was an Italian scholar and humanist. He promoted the value of classical Greek learning and therefore was the first to print an edition of Ptolemy in vernacular Italian, rather than Latin.

The maps in Berlinghieri's Geographia appear distorted as compared to modern maps, because Ptolemy's data was inaccurate. One reason is that Ptolemy estimated the size of the Earth as too small.  While Eratosthenes of Cyrene, a Greek mathematician, elegiac poet, athlete, geographer, and astronomer, made several discoveries and inventions including a system of latitude and longitude and conceived the idea of 700 stadia for a degree on the globe, in the Geographia Ptolemy it uses 500 stadia. It is not certain if these geographers used the same stadion, but if we assume that they both stuck to the traditional Attic stadion of about 185 meters, then the older estimate is 1/6 too large, and Ptolemy's value is 1/6 too small. Because Ptolemy derived most of his topographic coordinates by converting measured distances to angles, his maps get distorted. So his values for the latitude were in error by up to 2 degrees. For longitude this was even worse, because there was no reliable method to determine geographic longitude.

Ptolemy was well aware of this.  It must be added that his original topographic list cannot be reconstructed.  The long tables with numbers were transmitted to posterity through copies containing many scribal errors, and people have always been adding or improving the topographic data.  This is a testimony to the persistent popularity of this influential work in the history of cartography.

As early as 1938, Arthur M. Hind, Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, hinted that the engravings might have been made by Francesco Rosselli, the principal engraver in Florence in the 1480s and 1490s.  Subsequently, this possibility was rejected by Roberto Almagia, R. A. Skelton and Tony Campbell.  However, both stylistic and circumstantial evidence argues that Rosselli was indeed the engraver, and that this first major commission launched the career of the greatest Florentine map engraver of the period.

Condition Description: Trimmed into windheads, as is generally the case. Minor soiling.

References: Shirley 9.

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Maps of the World
Maps of the World