Catalog Archive
Auction 156, Lot 394

One of the Earliest Obtainable Maps of Brazil from the First Block

"Brasil", Ramusio, Giovanni Battista

Subject: Brazil

Period: 1554 (published)

Publication: Delle Navigationi Et Viaggi

Color: Black & White

15 x 10.8 inches
38.1 x 27.4 cm

This fascinating pictorial map is one of the earliest obtainable regional maps of Brazil. Illustrated with north to the right, the map is filled with vignettes representing native life, rather than focusing on geographical information. Native Indians are shown with bows and arrows, axes, llamas, and hammocks, for which Brazilians are well known. The surrounding ocean is teeming with French and Portuguese ships and sea monsters. Along the coast, Europeans are depicted interacting with natives. The limited geographical information presented is quite inaccurate. The Amazon River (here called Maranon F.) and the Parana River originate from lakes on the side of an erupting volcano. Spurious mountains and rivers fill the western portion of Brazil, labeled Terra non Discoperta (undiscovered land).

This woodblock map is from the first block, published in 1554 and then destroyed by fire in the printing house of Thomaso Guinti in 1557. A second block was cut in 1565, with the notable difference of Descoperta written at top center instead of Discoperta. The second block was used again in 1606, distinguishable from the earlier printing by the appearance of woodworm damage to the printing block. Many of the blocks for the 1554 edition of Ramusio's Delle Navigationi Et Viaggi were produced by the great Venetian cartographer Giacomo Gastaldi.

References: Shirley (BL Atlases) G.RAMU-1a #6.

Condition: B

A nice impression on watermarked paper with light toning and some minor damp stains. There is a tear that extends 1" into image at bottom near the centerfold that has been closed on verso with archival tape. Several other minor tears confined to the blank margins have been archivally repaired.

Estimate: $1,000 - $1,300

Sold for: $550

Closed on 2/17/2016