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In 1987 Professor Corradino Astengo wrote chapter 7 of the third volume, first book of the History of Cartography. He included a snapshot of the life of both brothers, Jaume and Bartolomeo Olives and that for Jaume is as follows;
HOC3/B1.Ch7, page 226

Over the same period, a much more relevant contribution was made by various members of the Olives family, originally from Majorca. The head of this veritable dynasty was Jaume, who signed all his work as “Mallorqui”, thus emphasizing his origins. We know nothing about his period of apprenticeship, but it is likely that he learned the rudiments of the art in Majorca itself, because his first known work was produced in Marseilles in 1550, when the city had no known cartographic workshop, let alone a School of Cartography. In 1552 he went to Messina, working there for a decade before moving to Naples, then back to Marseilles, and finally to Barcelona. Nordenskiold has suggested that Jaume was actually a sailor who supplemented his income by drawing charts during his long lay-offs in the ports of the Mediterranean.314 Caraci315 not only accepts this hypothesis but suggests it could be valid for other contemporary cartographers as the only convincing explanation for their continually moving around.
However, Jaume’s movements from one port to another seem to have been not just the casual result of the availability of work on board ship; they seem to follow a precise itinerary from Majorca through Marseilles to Messina, then back again via Naples to Marseilles and Barcelona. Of course in an era when land travel was difficult and dangerous, ships were the best way to get from one port to another, and a cartographer of recognised ability would have had no difficulty getting a berth (perhaps in exchange for his professional services).
314 = Nordenskiold Periplus 65 and 315 = Giuseppe Caraci, “Una carta nautical disegnata a Malta nel 1574” Archivio Storico di Malta 1 (1930) pp 181-211. (see text ChCNM/1)

Thirty five years later it is possible to update the family history and indicate what at first is not apparent because of the brother’s peripatetic lifestyle, and the fact that their works carry a surprising similarity.

In my text ChBOL/1 concerning a singular work by Bartolomeo Olives, I produced a time line chart to investigate the possible interaction with others, particularly their early life on Majorca and who, therefore, could have trained the brothers in the art. That was determined as Salvat de Pilestrina by a comparison of the charts by Bartolomeo lives to Pilestrina’s work. Thus to begin the investigation into the work by Jaume Olives it is necessary to return to that putative time line chart and discuss their early life.



The Majorcan records allow for this timeline to be produced and the mores of the age plus life expectancy taken into account. The chart is also numbered ChJOL/1/D01.

From that information and the extant charts of both Jaume and Bartolomeo Olives it is possible to determine their probable life span and hence their birth dates. Bartolomeo Olives was the key to the dating hence I concentrated on his oeuvre first as in my text ChBOL/1. That set of dates then allowed for the estimation of when Jaume was born and obviously a putative life span.

It clearly indicated that their ages 10-20, the normal period for training (a minimum of 7 years) which other cartographers were present on Majorca during that period. This was also the opportunity to consider the life span and work of Salvat de Pilestrina and Joan Martinez, as indicated on diagram ChBOL/1/D01.

Bartolomeo Olives has his first extant chart dated 1538, drawn on Majorca, and the Notarial records show he purchased a house in 1538 and then marries in 1546 on Majorca.
Jaume Olives first extant chart is dated 1550 and is drawn in Marseilles as Professor Astengo clearly states in his HOC text. But Jaume Olives trained c1522/1532 and thus there is an 18 year period without any data for him available to us to clarify the situation.

Did Jaume train as a cartographer and after 1532 commence a career also as a seaman enabling him to support his younger brother during those 18 years and particularly when Bartolomeo marries. Bartolomeo has but two extant charts, then purchases a house and marries all on the back of those? (SpBa2, BMM and It Ve1, Foscari) His next extant chart is drawn in Naples, 1550.

Jaume therefore knew of Bartolomeo’s cartographic works and in 1550 his first extant chart is available drawn in Marseilles. Bartolomeo is in Naples and returns to Palma c1552, when the two are together again.

It appears they are together again in Naples, 1563/1564/1565 and when the charts of Jaume Olives are studied, with 21 known from 1550 to 1572, appearing to be one a year. But, there are 6 items dated 1563, 2 items 1564 and two dated 1566, which indicates Jaume was living in Naples 1563/1565 and in Marseilles 1566, hence a very prodigious workload to earn his keep.

Finally, the timescale provides for another possibility for the brothers to meet as Jaume was in Messina 1559 and Bartolomeo travelled from Palma Majorca to Venice for 1559, hence there is no reason why they should not have met in Messina 1558/59.


1) 1550 chart drawn in Marseilles and held in the Library of Congress reference Port CH6 (HOC USW2) Endorsed, “Jaume ollives mallorqui en marsela a 1550”, it is unfortunately water damaged, but is still a good enough example of a portolan chart. In the east it has suffered a little damage, but overall is drawn from the Atlantic Coastline including the British Isles to the east coast of the Black Sea and includes the Red Sea. From the north, the Baltic and Norway to the south and the W African coast to the Rio d’Oro it is typical of its genre.

In the west is a “Madonna and Child” plus ornate Windrose and it has seven seated “Kings” with large vignettes of Venice and Genoa, plus a smaller Barcelona and Cairo. There are several much smaller towns also. Numerous Flags are appended in N Africa and the drawings are of a Lion and a Saddled Camel. It is basically a standard Portolan Chart of the Mediterranean Sea basin which has been produced for ages by many cartographers.


2) c1550, Princeton University, Grenville Kane College, MS 57, (HOC US Pr1)


This is an atlas drawn in Majorca, 20 x 15 cms, and comprising 4/8 folios which comprise, 1) British Isles to Strait of Gibraltar; 2) Central Med Sea; 3) Eastern Med Sea plus Black Sea; 4) Atlantic from Spain to Cape Verde including Azores, Canaries and Cape Verde Isles. Folios 1 and 4 have latitude scales, folio 1, 62N to 32N and folio 4, 41N to 8N.

It is a workmanlike atlas unadorned except for tiny flags on Corsica and Sardinia, The toponyms are plentiful on folios 1&2, but sparse on folio 3 and then plentiful on folio 4, the west coast of Africa. The fact that the first chart drawn in Marseilles has a full set of Toponyms for the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea possibly indicates a lack of time for production as the two atlas pages which follow are tentatively dated 1551 and their place of production unknown but in 1552/53 he is in Messina.

3) c1551/2, Maritime Museum Barcelona; 2 atlas folios, ref 10255 and 10256.


These are luxuriously produced folios, the first being the central Mediterranean Sea, but the southern area has been cut off. Very large vignettes of Venice and Genoa with the trade mark Jaume Olives wind rose roundels are drawn also.
The second folio is of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. It is a full folio page with scale bar in the south. Unlike the previous atlas there are plenty of toponyms on both folios, but the decoration is only three small towns and a multitude of flags.

4) 1552. Biblioteca Civico Verona, MS 1956 (HOC It Vr2) (unavailable)

This is a Portolan chart drawn in Messina and endorsed, “Jaume Ollives mallorqui en Messina 1552.”

5) 1553. Biblioteca Universitaria, Pavia, Sala MS (HOC It Pv1)


ChJOL/1/D06 & 7

This is a Portolan Chart drawn again in Messina and endorsed, “Jaume olives mallorqui en messina any 1553”. A large rectangular vellum skin (the neck is removed), it is decorated with vignettes, Kings and Flags. Again in N Africa we see a lion and a Saddled camel. The overlay indicates the putative latitudes and longitudes.

ChJOL/1/D08 & 9

I have compared it to the Salvat de Pilestrina 1511 chart drawn on Majorca and it was no doubt used as a teaching aid for both Jaume and Bartolomeo Olives as it clearly illustrates that Jaume had obtained his “pattern/template” from that work and was no doubt keeping them as part of his baggage.

6) 1556 Portolan Chart privately owned by Wesley Brown and drawn by Jaume Olives in Marseilles. (unavailable)

7) 1559 Portolan Chart, British Library Add MS 21029 (HOC UKL15), drawn in Messina. Add MS 21943

This chart is very similar to (5) but more subtle in its portrayal. It has vignettes of Venice, Genoa, Barcelona and the “& Kings” plus the customary Virgin and Child. Curiously it has a “Putti” in the east with the word “Asia” sitting above the head which is on clouds and obviously blowing the east wind. In the west is a complete latitudinal scale from 62N to 20N and it has an Atlantic Ocean with the Azores, Canaries and Madeira and in the north Isla de Brasil and three smaller isles. The wind rose roundels are a new design, being more open and only having 16 points, 8 major and 8 minor.


The peculiarity of this chart is in the portrayal of animals both mystical and real which are a major feature along with Christian iconography on Bartolomeo’s charts. Until now Jaume has placed just two animals in N Africa, a lion and a Saddled camel, but now he has filled the landscape south of the Atlas Mountains with a multitude. From the west we see; Bear, Lion, Camel, Dragon, Serpent, Elephant, Bear and an Antelope. In my text ChBOL/1 I include an appendix which details the reason for each to be drawn.

8) 1559 Portolan Chart, Biblioteca Nazionale Victor Emmanuel III, Naples reference MS XII D98 (HOC Na3)

This chart is restricted to Iberia and the residue of the Mediterranean Sea basin and Black Sea. It has little decoration, vignettes of Venice, Genoa, Barcelona and seven smaller towns. The Madonna and Child is the same as the above chart (7) as are the wind roundels with only 16 points. The Red Sea is rather large compared to (7) and there are no animals, mountains or rivers appended. In fact it is a much simpler Portolan chart and could be said to be “Standard issue”.


9) 1561 Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, V E II, Rome, Carte Nautiche 3, (HOC It Ro5)
Endorsed, Jaume Olives malorqui en missina 1561.

It is a standard chart with large Madonna and Child on a demi-lune base, large vignette of Venice, which has a very stylized winged animal, certainly not a Lion: Genoa with its flag; The Cross Keys of the Pope pointing at Aigues Mort, “aygot mortar” ; Barcelona, Granada, Lisbon and another at Cape Finistere!. Curiously Senz Croatia (Seyd) has an eight pointed star flag appended to it. Senz is a very old city with a16th century fortress built against the Ottomans, but the Flag is unknown.


10) 1563 Museo Correr Venice, Port 17 (HOC It Ve41)

A full portolan chart with both the Madonna and child and two Bishops floating on clouds in the west. The winds are denoted by “Putis” and Arabic texts are placed, two in N Africa and two in Europe. The Red Sea is oversized which occurs on some Jaume Olives Charts as are the large vignettes of Venice and Genoa with Barcelona, Granada and others smaller. A workmanlike chart with wind roses having eight major winds noted, but in the west the main wind rose has 16 winds thus tends towards his standard drawing.

Diagram ChJOL/1/D13

11) 1563, State Scientific Library Olomouc, Czech. Reference MS II 33 (HOC Ce03)

Drawn in Naples, this Atlas of 7 folios, the first being a large wind rose, with two lines of text. 1) Jaume olives mallorchi en napols any 1563, and 2), s d con tastin de nicolo de curffo.
The second line has been considered by Ivan Kupcik to be as follows;

“Double page one features a wind(compass) rose. Over the rose is the authorial legend and the chart legend: Jaume olives mallorchi en napls any 1563. The inverted name reading S d con tastin de nicolo de curffo, under the compass rose designates the second author of the atlas, Nicolo de Curffo, who may have come from Corfu, judging by his name, and not the owner of the atlas or the person to whom the atlas was dedicated, which was the opinion of Bernhard Brandt. Such instances are not known in the history of portolan cartography. On the contrary, it was no exception for the authir of a chart to ask a skilled craftsman for collaboration who would only finish or complete the chart. The naming of such collaborators in the atlas was the exception, as is the case here. Both the lines are written in the same handwriting.”


However, “nicolo de curffo” is actually Nikolaus Sophianos who is described as follows;
“Nikolaos Sophianos was a Greek Renaissance humanist and cartographer chiefly noted for his Totius Graeciae map and his Grammar of Greek. He was born into the local nobility of Corfu at the beginning of the 16th century and was educated at the Greek Quirinal College Rome, co-founded by another Greek scholar, Janus Lascaris, who also became his teacher along with Arsenius Apostolius. Sophianos did not return to live in Greece; only briefly visiting in 1543. He spent the rest of his life in Rome where he became a librarian and Venice where he worked as a copyist. His cartographical work was published in 1540”.

Therefore study his chart of Greece (ancient) and it is quite apparent that it is an attempt to create a map of what was perceived to be Ancient Greece and is more akin to Claudius Ptolemy than to a geographical Aegean Sea and its littoral.

Thus I believe Jaume Olives is actually stating that his chart is the correct form of the Aegean Sea, and He is stating that He is contesting that chart by Nikolaus Sophianos!

The atlas folios of charts are beautifully drawn and provide for an overlap which would enable the construction of a Portolan chart stretching to the east coast of Newfoundland. It is obviously from the same “Pattern/template” used by him for the c1550 atlas drawn in Palma Majorca and held in Princeton University (2).

12) 1563, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan reference SP II 37 (HOC ItMi2ter)


Drawn in Naples there are only 4 folios and it is very similar to the preceding two atlases. There are only six extant atlases, whole or partial by Jaume Olives and each is a very similar drawing style, unadorned generally.

13) 1563, Beinecke Library Yale University, reference *30 cea 1563chart (HOC USNH4)

Drawn in Naples this chart represents yet another change in style and presentation by Jaume Olives of a Portolan chart. There are five items dated 1563 and all are differently presented.

This chart has “Putti’s” blowing the eight major winds, a standing Madonna and Child, Venice Genoa and Barcelona as large vignettes and Granada on its green mound. There are a multitude of other towns and 2 rivers included the Danube and the Nile. The Atlas Mountains are completely stylized, but below them we see the Animals. This time they are all real being a Lion, Camel, Antelope, Saddled Camel and Elephant. The Antelope is drawn with “special horns” which appear to be his trade mark. (see16)


14) 1563, HAS New York Atlas of 6 folios, Reference K30 (HOC USNY `14) Jaume Olives mallorchi en Napoli any 1563

The six folios occupy a double page being 28 x 36 cms and contains charts of, 1) Eastern Med Sea, 2) Atlantic coast Iberia and N Africa, 3) British Isles to Iberia, 4) Western Med Sea, 5) Central Med Sea and Aegean, 6) The Black sea and levante coast of the Mediterranean sea.
The last double page is described by E L Stevenson as follows; “it is interesting to find that on the last double page a very large compass rose has been drawn filling almost the entire sheet and on the first double page a circle has been drawn with radiating lines, suggesting that the author had intended these as construction lines for a chart which has never been drawn”

But the atlas drawn in Naples dated 1563 and held in Olomouc Czech, commences with precisely the same over large wind rose, comprising the double page and having 32 lines as above. Hence is the HAS atlas in fact an unfinished version of the Olomouc Atlas which in considering the 1563 work load may well point to the actuality. The HSA Atlas is drawn larger than the Olomouc Atlas for each folio’s geography.


15) 1564, B N Firenze, Atlas of 5 folios reference Mag L XIII 3 (HOC It Fi21)

This atlas of 5 folios appears to be so very similar to the Olomouc M II 33 just discussed. It is luxuriously drawn but all that is extant covers only, 1) British Isles to Strait of Gibraltar, 2) Central Med Sea, 3) Eastern Med Sea, 4) Atlantic coast of Iberia south to Cape Verde and lastly 6) the Gulf of Guinea from Cape Verde to Fernando Po.

It was probably drawn for a client interested in the Portuguese area of the Gulf of Guinea, but surprisingly omits the Castella d’Amina fortress, the main Portuguese trading post.


16)1564, Fundazion Bartolomeo March-Severa, (HOC SP3)

This chart has vague similarities with the 1563 Museo Correr chart Port 17, in that the vignettes in the west are the Madonna and Child plus the Bishops again carried on clouds. But there is little other similarity and it is a basic portolan chart.


17) No Date (?16 Jhdt 1544). National Library of Austria, Vienna, reference MS 337 (HOC 000?) Diagram


The work is attributed to Jaume Olives and is an atlas of 11 folios which can be considered part of a systematic drawing of atlases in 1563 and 1564 by J Olives. They are all very similar indeed having the same presentation folio to folio. Strikingly similar are the vignettes of Venice and Genoa with their rich colours indicating a close dating and usage of the same materials. It also exhibits certain features indicating that it is not quite finished. Folio 3 has a double line west of the Atlantic Coasts which has not been completed as a latitude scale. However, folio 4 does have the latitude scale complete along with folios 5,6,7 and 8.

The texts on folio 10 are a carry-over from previous works regarding Magellan’s voyage.

Folio 11 is very strange indeed. It has a small scale world chart which is surprisingly good for the normal continents and if the huge southern continent and northern land mass are ignored would make an excellent map. However on the second part of folio 11, Jaume Olives has commenced a map of Scandinavia. It shows the Jutland Peninsula and the Baltic Sea quite differently from the World Map. Unfortunately the Baltic when it turns northwards should have the Gulf of Finland to the east and the Gulf of Bothnia trending north-westerly. There is a rather curious gulf to the north of a land mass with no geographical comparison.

It is no doubt meant to be an explanation of this area as it includes the N E part of Scotland in a nearly correct latitude. But this is definitely Jaume Olives and the best date for it is 1564.

18) c1565 Liverpool University Library, MS F 4 17 Chart (HOC UKLi1)


This chart is the subject of a singular text, ChLUL/1, as it clearly adds important features which indicate both customer and recipient. It is a luxurious chart, but undated and not signed as the neck of the vellum has been cutback, as in fact have all the sides.

This is probably the most luxurious chart Jaume Olives has drawn and decorated. It has “Putti’s”, 14 seated and two standing “Kings” with a plethora of animals, four camels being rode, three Elephant and Castles and a drinking Antelope. The text ChLUL/1 explains it all in detail as well as noting the putative client and recipient of the chart.

19) 1566 HAS New York, chart K41 (HOC USNY15)

Jaume Olives mallorqui en marsela any 1566.


This is a portolan chart similar in content to the 1559 chart drawn in Messina (8) and is a well drawn quite plainly decorated chart. The luxurious wind rose roundels of 16 triangles have the trademark circular cut out on those triangles. The Madonna and Child are shown “Floating” on a cloud with the short attribution text adjacent. But, they are surrounded by line drawings!
This is a rather strange feature for a chart and it appears to show a Lion attacking a Bear or Sheep. The Lion has its tail between its legs and has its right paw on the back of the Bear/Sheep which in turn is snarling at it. The Lion/Bear/Sheep is from a story in the Bible concerning David and Saul, but why these figures should be appended particularly around a well drawn Madonna and child is a mystery. It is deepened further by the fact that to their left on the chart is a standing person in medieval dress, but has part of the neck of the vellum has been removed the figure is decapitated. Are they original or have they been added later?
This chart could also be claimed as a near copy of Bartolomeo Olives 1552 chart, HSA K34.

20) 1566 Museo Correr Venice Port 18 chart (HOC ItVe42)

Jaume Olives mallorqui en marsella 1566

This is basically the same chart as HSA K41 (19) just described. There are some very minor differences in that it includes Granada and a small town west of Cairo; hardly a difference!

The wind rose setting out is exactly the same and thus this chart indicates what has been removed from K41. Jaume Olives was obviously in Marseilles long enough to draw two charts of excellent quality.


21) 1571, Fundazion B. March-Severa, Palma Majorca (HOC SP4)

Jaume Olives mallorqui en barcelana any 1571.

This is a standard portolan chart with “trademark” vignettes of Venice and Genoa with their remarkable blue water seas. Scandinavia, the Baltic, is as per the Vienna Atlas folio 11, with the Danube similarly drawn. It is obvious that Jaume Olives is recycling most elements of his charts and atlases, probably because his peripatetic life style has not allowed for any updating of his pattern/templates.


22) 1572, Valenciennes, Mediatheque Simone Veil, Atlas Ms 0488 (HOC FrV1)

Este libro yzo Jaimes Holives mallorquin en la noble civdad de Barsalona anno de MDLXX11. It contains 9 folios, 40 x 60cms.
Jaume Olives has a penchant for wind rose Roundels. He has obviously developed their design from 1550 onwards, be they 16 or 32 points. But surprisingly he has used one to decorate atlases and in this instance included on the same folio a map of the world.
This is probably the most luxurious atlas he has produced, consisting of 9 folios which commences with the Wind Rose and miniature map of the world (See Vienna) and an unusual attribution cartouche all surmounted by a large wind rose with 32 rays.

Folio 2) South America has the two standard texts and is full of toponyms. But within the coastline are curiosities. There is an Eagle; A pair of birds in flight; a Unicorn; curious Camel; Lion and an Elephant all transposed from their normal N African position on these charts. A large vignette of Rei de Spania and two other men in the same pose. Brazil is named in the N East and Peru Provincia central on the landmass with the town of QUITO P in majuscules. Peru is actually in NW S America with Ecuador to its north which contains the town of Quito. This folio has a latitude scale from 4S to 57S and it positions “La Plata” correctly at 35S and the Strait of Magellan correctly c52S.


Folio3) The Atlantic from the Equator to 63N is a good representation of S America, Africa and the Islands. Tierra de Labrador is shown conflating Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador from 47N.

Folio 4) The junction of N and S America and the Caribbean Sea is up to date, but again Jaume Olives has transferred mythical animals of N Africa here. There is a winged Dragon, a seated Monkey and a Basilisk in the north which is named TOPIRA P and includes a standing and a seated Man. S America curiously has “tierra Firma” inland from the Caribbean Sea and Peru aP with a traditional Rio de Amazones.
The latitude scale is called “Altura” = Latitude in Spanish.

Folio 5) South Africa. Curiosly called Aethipia, it includes the River Nile to the very southern point. There are four seated “Kings” and “Preste juan de la india” in W Africa. The latitude scale is excellent from13N to 39S.

Folio 6) East Africa, Arabia and Persia/India. Extending from the Caspian Sea in the north to the Tropic of Capricorn and the Island of Madagascar, “I S Lavreti” it includes a short text ,”este piuerto sellama goa adonde vienen las naves de Lisbona” That is, “This port is named Goa where comes the Ships of Lisbon”.
Arabia Felise has a seated “R de hormus”, which is really on the wrong side of the Persian Gulf. There are eight seated “Kings” and another Prester John.

Folio7) This chart extends from Arabia in the west to China in the east and includes the Spice Islands with the two “Magellan” texts. India is drawn
and has the “Navy of Lisbon” text again. The whole chart is a well executed portrayal of the knowledge of c1550AD.

Folio 8) The eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Black sea. It is a slightly mutilated folio removing Italy but even with that it is a well executed chart. Africa has its animals, Lion, Camel and Elephant plus “Prester John of the Indies”. Mount Sinia with the monastery atop is a large vignette as are two of the seven “Kings” drawn there-on.

The date of this Atlas 1572 is just following the Battle of Lepanto where the Spanish and Venetian Fleets defeated the Ottoman Navy and the Ottomans were still trying to expand their empire militarily. This military theme is carried on the charts of Domingo, Jaumes Son and Joan Riczo Olives, Domingos son (qv).


So much is unknown about Jaume Olives that even the charts and atlases cannot inform us. He is a consummate cartographer and his works improve continually until the 1572 Atlas which is a tour de force and one of the best available. It is obvious that he is in close contact with his brother Bartolomeo as their works contain much of each other’s ideas.

Perhaps the fact that Bartolomeo appears to be somewhat the more stable in his life living mostly in Messina could have aided Jaume when it came to his private life and the obvious (?) marriage to provide a son and then a grandson.

It is also reasonable to assume that as Jaume was peripatetic he possible collected more cartographical information than the stationary Bartolomeo. But, the brother’s work is to be counted as some of the best cartography and knowledge giving charts and atlases.



ChCNM/1; The curious case of a chart “fecha” on Malta, 1574; A narrative


In researching the works of Jaume and Bartolomeo Olives, I came across the 1574 chart and the text by G Caraci. The chart is somewhat a curiosity as it is strangely endorsed as follows; “del mallorquin fecha en Malta anyo de 1574”. It is held in the Biblioteca del R. Istuto di Belle Arti, Firenze and codified as 94(84) x 62cms, Catalogue number 9.

I obtained a copy of the Portolan Chart from the Biblioteca and from the Malta Public Library a copy of the G Caraci text; Archivio Storico di malta;Rivista Trimestriale; Apr-Giugno, 1930, entitled “Una carta nautical disegnata a Malta nel 1574, and is 32 folios.

After much discussion G Caraci wrote the final paragraph thus: “come abbiamo accennato, quell che imposta supratutto mettere in evidenza e che nessun prototipo si avvicina meglio alla pergamena sotto scritta dall’anonimo delle carte che abbiamo sopra ricordate di Bartolomeo Olives. Da una diqueste, senza alcun dubbio, discende il curioso cimelio fiorentino. Com unque, e questa la sola carta nautical finora nota che risulti designate e datata da Malta.”

This last sentence I found troubling as G Caraci actually states “designate e datata da Malta”

Would a cartographer deliberately state “Fecha”, i.e.”Dated” from the Spanish verb “Fechar”, when both Jaume and Bartolomeo generally state plainly “J O mallorchi en Napoli any 1563” or “B O mallorquin en le Castillo del Salvador en Messina atino 1572”

To indicate they have actually drawn it the cartographers tended to use “Fecit”= Made. Thus I am inclined to believe that it was not drawn on Malta.

Frissons of Doubt

I mused upon the fact that either Jaume or Bartolomeo could have been on Malta in 1574 as they both had “clear” years then and could have visited. Jaume was probably a sailor and carried his accoutrements with him port to port and thus to draw a chart on Malta would not have been a problem
However Bartolomeo was ensconced in Messina Sicily, an easy boat ride to Malta, but I could not understand why he would chose to go there, taking his accoutrements along to draw this chart, when it could more easily have been drawn in Messina and carried as a finished article to Malta for the client to approve. Hence it could be headed “Fecha en Malta” ready for signature by the cartographer.
That it was not signed by either J O or B O, I thought was a sign that it was not accepted and returned to Messina, or, for an unknown reason neither of them wanted to sign it!

It obviously left Malta, not like some Portolan Charts which ended up as bindings for Notarial Records, as I have already written aboutGiuseppe Caraci has a list of charts in his text which he has used to analyse the 1574 chart. They are as follows; 1) J Olives 1563; 2) J Olives 1563, Ambrosiana; 3) B Olives 1583; 4) Anonimo Maiorchino 1574; 5) Joan Martines 1579; 6) J Riczo Olives 1587: 7) ditto 1588; 8) Anonimo Catalano Sec XVI.

That list informed me immediately that G Caraci did not know of the B Olives 1575 chart held in the Bodleian Library, and was the closest date to the Malta chart, known.
A comparison of the 1574 and 1575 charts to settle the cartographers name.

The first small problem was that the 1574 chart held in Florence had a permanent crease near the centre which had to be accounted for to obtain a correct chart. It was also quite apparent that there was a twist in the vellum which can be seen in the title “Europa”. I tried to use the “92” ratio of 35/30/20/7 and could thus stretch the chart slightly trying to obviate the difficulties of overlaying one chart on the other, but it was not possible to correct a double twist in the vellum. However sufficient of the chart was available to compare.

Lo and behold I concluded they were virtually one and the same with coastal details matching precisely and even the latitudinal scale in the same position on the charts.

Study the attached sections of the charts commencing with the British Isles and the coastal features there and for the Atlantic coast of Europe are the same, or so very close to each other as to be drawn from the same pattern/template and very close to each other on a timescale. The eastern Mediterranean Sea is also a fit, but the twist causes northern problems.


The Malta 1574 chart is drawn by Bartolomeo Olives, most likely in Messina and then transported to a “client” on Malta but either not accepted, hence B Olives has not signed it, or, as I have already premised for an unknown reason he refused to endorse it.

I do not believe it was drawn on Malta and I think G Caraci, had he known about the Bodleian Library 1575 chart, would probably have agreed. The word “fecha” is too positive to be a mistake for “fecit” which neither of them appears to use, and thus my conclusion.