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Prima Africae Tabula
[Rome: Petrus de Turre, 4 November 1490]. Engraved map. Good condition apart from repairs to the centre fold and at the lower margin. 16 1/8 x 22 inches. An important early map of north western Africa, from an edition of Ptolemy's 'Cosmographia' containing some of the finest Ptolemaic plates ever produced This important map is from the 1490 Rome edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia:. It shows the majority of Morocco and Algeria, with Spain in outline to the north. All the maps are printed from the same plates as the Rome edition of 1478. '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.2). Skelton echoes Shirley's sentiments: 'The superior craftsmanship of the engraved maps in the Rome edition, by comparison with those of the [1477] Bologna edition, is conspicuous and arresting. The cleanliness and precision with which the geographical details are drawn; the skill with which the elements of the map are arranged according to their significance, and the sensitive use of the burin in working the plates - these qualities ... seem to point to the hand of and experienced master, perhaps from North Italy' (Claudius Ptolomaeus Cosmographia Rome 1478, Amsterdam, 1966, p.VIII). A number of authorities have suggested an engraver from either Venice or Ferrara. In any event, the prints from these fine copper plates rank as some of the earliest successful intaglio engravings, quite apart from their undeniable cartographic importance. Another aspect of these maps which stands out is the fine roman letters used for the place names on the plates: in an apparently unique experiment, these letters were not engraved with a burin but punched into the printing plate using metal stamps or dies. According to Skelton the 1490 edition of Ptolemy, from which this map came, was issued 'in response to the geographical curiosity aroused by the Portuguese entry into the Indian Ocean... [The printer, Petrus de Turre (Pietro de la Torre) used the plates of the 1478 edition, which still showed little wear and produced excellent impressions' (op.cit. p.X). Cf. BMC IV,p.133; Campbell pp.131-133; cf. Goff P-1086; cf. Hain 13541; IGI 8128; cf. Klebs 812.7; cf. Proctor 3966; cf. Sabin 66474; cf. Sander 5976; cf. Skelton Claudius Ptolomaeus Cosmographia Rome 1478, Amsterdam, 1966,p.XIII; cf. Stevens, Ptolemy 42; cf. Stilwell P-992.
      [Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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