Catalog Archive
Auction 190, Lot 319

Rare Chart of Iceland and the Mythical Island of Frisland

"Carta Particolare dell' Isole di Islandia e Frislandia, con l'Isolette di Fare...", Dudley, Robert (Sir)

Subject: Iceland

Period: 1661 (published)

Publication: Arcano del Mare...

Color: Black & White

29.9 x 19 inches
75.9 x 48.3 cm
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This rare chart focuses on Iceland and the mythical island of Frisland, which first appeared on the "Zeno map" of 1558 and became readily adopted by numerous influential cartographers. Although Frisland appears on many maps of the 16th and 17th centuries, Dudley's chart is the earliest detailed map of the island. Numerous capes, inlets and place names are shown along the coasts of both islands and the only inland detail is an erupting Mt. Hekla in Iceland. The chart is elegantly engraved with fine calligraphy, a bold title cartouche, a sailing ship, and a compass rose by the Florentine craftsman Arnoldo Lucini. This is the second state with "Lo.6o." added to the title cartouche. Printed on two joined sheets, as issued. To read more about the mythical island of Frisland, read our article here.

Robert Dudley was the first Englishman to produce a sea atlas, Dell Arcano del Mare (Secrets of the Sea). Dudley, a skilled mathematician and navigator, was exiled from England and settled in Florence where his atlas was published. He introduced a totally new style for sea charts in the atlas with only lines of latitude and longitude and no rhumb lines. The charts were meticulously compiled from original sources and were both scientific and accurate for the time. This important atlas was the first sea atlas of the whole world; the first to use Mercator's projection throughout; the earliest to show the prevailing winds, currents and magnetic deviation; and the first to expound the advantages of Great Circle Sailing. In an introductory leaf found in one copy in the British Library, the engraver (Lucini) states that he worked on the plates in seclusion for twelve years in an obscure Tuscan village, using no less than 5,000 pounds of copper for the printing plates. It was only issued in two editions and the maps are rarely seen on the market.

References: Shirley (BL Atlases) M.DUD-1b.

Condition: B+

A dark impression on bright sheets with a small Maltese cross watermark, a bit of printer's ink residue, and light toning along the joint. There is a minor printer's crease at bottom center.

Estimate: $3,750 - $4,500

Sold for: $3,250

Closed on 11/16/2022