Commencing with an examination of the two Library of Congress charts, Vellum’s 9 and 10, (although not contiguous) their actuality and hidden data, such as the “signature”, leads to three volumes of an extraordinary geographical treatise, published between 1550 and 1559 in Venice. Written by G B Ramusio, and within is the introduction to two prominent cartographers, one Portuguese/Spanish and the other Italian. To uncover the facts the history of the exploration of the Pacific coast from Mexico to Chile is necessary and thus more accurate dating is possible of the two charts. Each chart is examined and a complete resume, as necessary, of the “Naviagationi et Viaggia” by G B Ramusio as it clearly indicates how the Italian cartographer learnt his geography, and the sources of the geographical information.
VELLUM CHART 10, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGUE NOTES
“Portolan chart of the Pacific coast from Mexico to N. Chile (ca1500), coloured pen and ink, m s on vellum, 33 x 85cm, scale not given, ref G4412.
This Spanish portolan chart depicts the Pacific coastline from N. Chile to Mexico. The chart appears unfinished as it does not include towns or cities, nor does it identify coastal features. By contrast its technical and decorative elements are well executed. It includes a large decorative wind rose and drawings of three vessels (two of them finished).”
The chart, Vellum 10, ChRAM/1/D03 is displayed verso and recto and has unusual features which are a double series of punched holes. This can only be discussed properly when the second chart Vellum 9 is examined.
However the features on the chart which must be mentioned are the partial circle in the south of the wind rose and the unusual “signature”. This circle indicates that the wind rose may have been set out from a circle in the first instance and perhaps indicates a chart having perhaps at least the Eastern section formed from the wind rose semi-circle which could encompass both Mexico and part of South America, including the West Indies.
But study the rear photo of the chart which indicates the punched holes. To enable a clear understanding the recto and verso images are shown side by side, but clearly indicated is the fact that the area of the punched holes has been scraped clean and thus perhaps we should consider this as perhaps a palimpsest and its original size indeterminate. Any conclusion on that comment must wait for the following chart Vellum 9 analysis to be made.
The “signature” is quite plain and is a “doodle” with the name Ramusio written. Giovanni Battista Ramusio was born in Treviso, Italy, 20/07/1485 and in 1505 became secretary to Alvise Mocenigo, the Venetian Republic ambassador to France. He was then appointed secretary to the Venetian Council of Ten and during this period collated hundreds of texts, letters etc., which enabled him to write the extant three volumes of “Navigationi et Viaggi” published from 1550 to 1559. They were unfortunately out of sequence with the last, Volume Two being published two years after his death on 10/07/1557. An investigation of the “doodle” signature is fully detailed later in the text.
The scale bar in the southern section of the vellum has been used to evaluate the Latitudes and Longitudes of the chart and are best found by using the wind rose graticule lines which when investigated prove to be set out to latitudinal distances.
To evaluate the latitudes there are two obvious geographical features upon the chart which can be used; the Golfo de Panama and the Golfo de Guayaquil. Just north of the Golfo de Guayaquil is a wind rose horizontal Line which corresponds to the position of the Equator. This is confirmed by the fact that the Golfo de Panama is set at 9 degrees north and thus correctly positioned apropos the putative Equatorial Line. From this therefore the latitudes can be clearly indicated and the wind rose horizontals denoted as well as the southernmost tip of the charts coastline. Using the typical proportions of a wind rose, 35/30/20/7, the latitudes are known by simple calculation.
From Golfo de Panama, 9N, the southern point on the coast as drawn is 33S and the part circle of the wind rose indicates the probable setting out utilised which when measured from the scale bar produces a degree of 83.33 scale bar units per degree. The typical portolan chart is drawn normally with each degree of latitude being 90 Miliaria and thus it is open to opine that the scale of this chart is actually 90 miliaria per degree as the length of the scale bar available for use is limited for real accuracy. However, it must be pointed out that the Spanish maritime measurement is 20 leagues or 80 miles per degree as discussed later
But, it is highly unlikely that a Spanish cartographer would “Doodle” the name of a prominent Venetian and Italian hence we must review that attribution.
VELLUM 10; EXPLORATION AND DATING;
It must be plain to all that Vellum 10 coastline does not equate to the geographical form of South America from 9N to 33S and is probably one of the reasons it is an incomplete chart. A sudden realisation of misleading data is no doubt the reason. Comparing Vellum 10 to a geographical chart, scales equal, the error can be quantified. This section of coastline was explored from 1535 to 1537 by Diego de Almagro among others, but principally Diego de Almagro is the first to reach 33S or what is now Valparaiso, Chile. In 1534 he is granted sovereignty over the lands between 14S and 25S, “Neuve Toledo” with Francisco Pizarro holding the lands from 1S to 14S, “Neuve Castilla”. Diego de Almagro’s advance south was inland and it was an expedition supplied by sea. This could well account for the discrepancy in the form of South America from Ponta Negra, c6S to Valparaiso, 33S, as the data could be corrupted from various mariners and the land based persons.
The conquest of Peru is detailed by G B Ramusio in his third volume and is now discussed in detail.
GIOVANNI BATTISTA RAMUSIO; VOLUME THREE; NAVIGATIONI ET VIAGGI
“Discorso Sopra Il Discoprimento et Conquista del Peru” Pages 370R and 371L
This text comprises two pages of detailed information regarding the exploits of Fernando Cortese, Francesco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro and covers the period from 1534 to the death of Diego de Almagro in 1537 and other actions from 1538 to 1548. From those two pages has been selected two sections for an in depth study; Page 370R, lines 3 to 9 and Page 371L lines 40-45 giving both the original Italian and its literal translation line by line.
3 – mar del Sur, chiamata il Perù, laquale al presente è discoperta a intorno intorno [error] con diverse navigationi, et tien di
sea of South, called Perù, that now is discovered around with many [or different] navigations, and is
4 – larghezza mille leghe, et di lunghezza 1200 et di circunferenza 4065. Dico, cominciando da quella parte di
large a thousand leagues, and length 1200 and circumference 4065. I say, starting from that part of
5 – detta terra ferma, che si ristringe tanto fra il mar del Nort. et quello del Sur, che non vi è di spatio piu che 60 leghe
the above mentioned continental earth, that makes smaller between Sea of North, and the South one, that there is not space over 60 leagues
6 – cioè da la città del Nome di Dio, ch’è verso levante, a quella del Panama ch’è verso ponente, il qual Panama sta mgra [typo error, maybe gradi]
that is from the city of the Name of God, that is eastward, to the westward one that is Panama, that Panama is [gradi]
7 – di otto e mezzo di sopra del Equinottide, et verso levante, et se questo stretto di terra di 60 leghe, fussi tagliato, tutto il Perù del
of eight and half on equinox, and eastward, and if this strait of land of 60 leagues is cut away, all Peru
8 – la grandezza che habbiamo detto, sarebbe Isola; et corre da questi gradi otto e mezzo desopra l’Equinottide fino
big land above-mentioned, will be Island, and extends from here gradi eight and half on equinox until or
9 – a 52 sotto il Polo Antarticho, dove è il stretto di Maglatanes; Hora di questo gran pezzo del mondo, si son vedute
to 52 down Polo Antarctic, where is strait of Maglanates (Strait of Magellan) (Now of these big part of world, you see …)
40 – regione del Peru è divisa in tre parti: cioé Pianura, Montagna, et Andesila Pianura è molto calida e arenosa, et si
region of Peru is divided in three parts: that is flat land, Mountain, and Andesila Flat land is very hot and gritty, and is
41 – estende lungo la marina; et cominciando da Tumbez, non vi piove ne tuona, ne vi vengono saette, et corre di
extended along the coast; and starting from Tumbez, is it not raining or thunder, or fall thunderbolts, and extends of
42 – costa 4500 leghe , o piu, et di larghezza fino in dieci o dodici, fin al piede della montagna; et gli huomini si ser-
coast 4500 league, or more, and large till ten or twelve, till the “foot” of mountain, and the men use
43 – von tanto per il bere, quanto per lo irrigare i terreni lavorati et seminati delli fiumi et fontane che descendono
to drink, as for irrigation of worked land and seeded [water] of rivers and fountains that falls
44 – dalli sopradetti onmnti [typo error for monti], quali non si allontanano quindici o venti leghe dal mare; la Montagna è una schiena di monti
from above.mentioned mountains, that don’t go far fifteen or twenty league from sea; the Mountain is a back of mounts
45 – altissima che corre 700 o più leghe, su le quali vi piovono grandissime acque et vi nevica in gran copia, et molto fredda
very high that extended 700 or more leagues, where is rain a lot of waters and snow in big quantity, (and very cold)
From Page one lines 7 to 9 indicate as already identified via the wind rose etc on Vellum 10 that distances are given from 8 ½ degrees north of the Equator to 52 degrees south, the Strait of Magellan. However on page two we read the coastline given as from TUMBEZ south as 4500 leagues. Tumbez is actually situated on the southern shore of Golfo de Guayaquil and thus we can establish the actual measurements. Tumbez, geographical 3 ½ degrees south and the Strait of Magellan is actually 53S, (given by Ramusio as 52S,) and thus a simple calculation is possible. From 3 ½ S to 52 S is 48 ½ degrees which equates to the 4500 leagues quoted and is thus 92.78 leagues per degree. Thus they are not Leagues but Miliaria as has already been opined. G B Ramusio did not know the standard measurements of Portolan Charts used for 200 years and merely called them Leagues as the measurement of the day.
NAVIGATIONI ET VIAGGI, VOLUME TERZA; A DISCUSION
The third volume is set out from “introduction”, “Discorso Sopra” and is an aid towards the construction of charts in that it gives information such as “ che citta del Mexico in 19 gradi di latitudine disopra la linea dell’egnotoiale” and,” Jaques Cartier il quale navigo alla terra posta sotto la tramontana gradi 50, d’etta la Nuova Francia”
“Re Henrico VII d’Inghilterra et mi diceva cane essendo egli andato lungameste et alla a volta di ponente et quarta di Maestro dietro queste Isole poste lugo la detta terra fino a gradi sessantasette et mezzo sotto il nostro polo”
But more importantly for our studies G B Ramusio writes; “La Terra del Bresil et Peru nel mar del Sur, no ho volu to mascar di non obedir a suoi commandamenti et ho futto che Messr Jacoma de Gastaldi cosmografo eccellente n’ha ridotto in picol compasso uno universal et pui quello in quarto tavole division, con quella cura et diligenzo che egli ha potuto maggiore”.
It should be stated that the whole section from which this is an abstract explains the workings and pressure G B Ramusio was under from the Venetian Council, and is indicated fully later (Page 6 of Discorso Sopra).
Following on in the text is the “Indice Del Terza Volume” which has substantial headings indicating the individual page numbers and sections as well as content;
P26c; Amerigo Vespucci Fiorentino navogo tanto verso mezzo di che parlato L’Equinottiale le gradi cinquanta cinque et discoperse terre infinite
Page 370f; Diego d’Almagro sua vita et morte.
Page 189b; Diego Ribero cosmgrafo
Page 1c; Distanta da Gades alla Canarie (which introduces a distance problem)
Page 1c; La prima seala fece alle Isole Fortunate lequali da gli Spagnuoli si chiamano le Canarie gradi 28 in circa sopra l’equinottale. Questa navigations su di mille Miglia perche second il conto de marinara queste isole sono lontana da Gades 250 leghe a Quattro migliar per legha——– Capo Verde dell Afica tenute hoggi da Portughesi gradfi 17 sopra l’equinottiale chia mate l’isole di Capo verde.”
Page 2a; Questa terra second il conto che facetta Colombo e lontana a dale Canarie 950 leghe nella quale dimorati alquanto. (950 x 4 = 3800, see below)
DISTANCE MEASURES IN THE 16TH CENTURY
La lieue juridique ancienne “Legua Legal” aboli in 1568 par Philippe II, se divisait en 3 millas ou milles. (Thus it is 26.62 per degree and each equal to 4.1750KM.)
La Lieue marine de 20 au degree, vraie lieue espagnole dite aussi “Lequal Comun” = 4000 pas = 6666 2/3ds Vares = 20 000 pieds = 5.5667Km and = 4 miles.
MILLE, ITALY. Le mille de Venise = 1.7387Km and 64 per degree.
But of course the most important measurement of the Portolan Chart era is the Miliaria of 1.2326Km. It is formed from the Roman Mile or as it is also referred to “The Italian Mile” of 1.4791Km usually written as 1.480Km which has 8 Stades within, and the Miliaria is 6 2/3rds stades. More importantly perhaps is the Marittimo Miglia of Genoa which equates to 10 stades and is thus 1 ¼ “Italian Miles and 1 ½ Miliaria equal to 1.8489KM.
TERZA VOLUME PAGES 86R AND 87L;
There are two pages of the terza volume require careful analysis and they are 86r and 87l as each page number covers both left and right of the open book pages.
Page 86r, sections D to F have several interesting and important distance measures there-in. “Dall primo isole, che si trovano fino a questa citta di San Dominico dell’isola Spagnuola, si navigano alter CL Leghe: di modo che da Spagna fin qua sono MCL o MCC leghe. Et questo e fecodo le carte da navigare, che hoggi si tengono per piu corrette e per miglion: perche nell alter carte passate sole vano fare questi viaggio di MCCC leghe e piu ancho“.
“From the first islands that are up to this town of San Domenico of the Island of Hispaniola, after 150 leagues are navigated; so that Spain is MCL (1150) or MCC (1200) leagues away”.
“Vanno a trovare l’isola Bermuda, che la Garza ancho si chiama e sta in XXXIII gradi (Bermuda is 32 .75N and 65.00W)“.
Page 87l is a description of the Isloa Spagnuola (Hispaniola) and the city of San Domenico is noted as at 18N and the north coast of the isle at 20N. These are accurate placements as can be clearly shown.
Page 44r of Terza Volume has a map of Isola Spagnuola but it is unsigned and without a graticule but is undoubtedly the work of Giacomo Gastaldi for G B Ramusio. It is on one side of the numbered double page and has Ponente at the top. The text continues;
“Si che la maggiore sua latitudine e da XVIII a XX di modo che potra essere di XXXVII leghe la sua larghezza: la lughezza poi e di CXX o di CXXX leghe poco piu u mano.”
The proportions are thus c125 x 37 leagues by Ramusio, but, geographically they are 125 x 46 ¾ leagues; that is Hispaniola is c700Km east /west and with the League being 5.5667 (4 miles) and thus 125 ¾ leagues. North/south the distance is c80% of the reality.
The text then changes to the first voyage of Columbus as follows: “Perche ho ditto che l’isola del Ferro, onde si da principioa questo viaggio sta posta in XXVII gradi e mezzo, (27 ½) e che l;isola Desiata, che e quell ache le navi vano prima a ritrovare sta in XIIII gradi.”
Thus we have the start point for the first voyage, the Island of Hierro (Canaries), 27 3/4N; 17.93W, and an excellent latitude is given, but the Island of Desire is given as 14N when it should read XXIIII that is 24N as the landfall was in the Bahamas’ island chain with possibly Watling Island named as Guanahani (which was legally changed to San Salvador) and is 24N. 74.667W. Thus the great circle distance between the two islands is 50.71 degrees, which at 20 leagues per degree, or 80 miles equals 1014 leagues and 4056 miles.
With C Columbus at c56 miles per degree we have c72 ½ degrees. C Columbus privately reckoned 2121 miles on October 1st 1492 and on October 12th land (? Watling Island) was sighted although perhaps Samana Cay is preferred. But page 2a gave 950 leagues = c4000 miles.
The text continues, “dove e a punto questa citta di San Domenico sta in XVIII gradi e che il piu largo di questa isola dalla parte di Tramontana, sta in XX gradi; di modo che pare che al maco. Si abbassano quatra gradi piu di quello, che si covenbbe per predere navigando questa isola e ogni grado da Polo a Polo occupa XVII leghe e mezza. In fato, che LXX leghe si discistano nangado dal paralello di questa isola Sagnuola;”
“e pericolse entrate fra le Isole e se si ritrovasse nelli diecenove o nelli vinti gradi per aventura co oqni poco di tempo contrario.”
Basically quite repetitious but the period between 1492 and 1565 allowed for accurate measurements and latitudes to be taken.
Within “Navigationi et Viaggi” by G B Ramusio there are many charts and drawings of both plants and animals and some people. The index mentioned lists them all by page number. Already mentioned is the chart on page 44r, the island of Hispaniola by G Gastaldi and it is later compared to a simple geographical chart to indicate just how accurate the later voyagers, who carried geographers/cosmographers on board, such as Juan de la Cosa, could actually achieve.
THE CURIOUS DOODLE SIGNATURE;
The fact that the “signature” is in the form of a doodle caused an obvious frisson of doubt as to its authenticity and thus I contacted the acknowledged expert on the G B Ramusio volumes, Marica Milanesi. I have been in contact with Marica Milanesi over many years and her being the author of a four volume discussion of the “Naviagationi et Viaggi” it was appropriate to ask for assistance.
I questioned the signature and this was the response;”Dear Michael, I have examined the map of the west coast of Central and S America which I found very interesting ( I am dealing with those areas and that period) but, certainly not known in Venice in the years in which it was designed. Or, in any case if they have known it nobody has ever used it as far as I know. I examined the signature and showed it to Ramusio writing specialists but none of us considered it his; moreover the ductus seems rather 17th century. I send you some pictures of Ramusio’s signature at different stages of his life so you can judge for yourself. Marica.”
Thus I consider the “Doodle” to be appended by the cartographer of Vellum 10 himself and more than likely pointing to where the data was accessed from to produce the chart. Thus if it was a trial run by the cartographer in understanding the text or geographical information available it would clearly account for it being unfinished, and being early c1540 it is probably before the joint venture and G Gastaldi is preparing himself.
VELLUM 9; LIBRARY OF CONGRESS;
“Portolan chart of the Pacific coast from Guatemala to N Peru with the Galapagos Islands (c1565); Coloured pen and ink ms on vellum; 33 ½ x 61 ½ cm; scale not given, Ref G 4802
This is a detailed Spanish Portolan Chart of the Pacific coast from N Peru to Guatemala and includes the Galapagos Islands. The chart shows coastline, coastal features, many coastal towns and settlements and occasional references to interior towns and cities. Although the chart is typical of Portolan Charts in emphasizing the coast, it also includes stylized buildings and groups of buildings representing interior cities and towns, some identified eg Quito, Granada and Leon. The chart also includes decorative wind roses and drawings of four large colourful birds.”
As with Vellum 10, the chart is presented recto/verso to illustrate that it portrays the unmistakable scraping of the vellum indicating it is also probably a palimpsest. It has the same form of holes in similar disposition to Vellum 10 but also includes an outline surrounding the punctures along the coastline to the north. A comparison of Vellum 9 and 10 punctures follows later, but it must be quite obvious they are “family”..
However, appended in the east on the wind rose graticule are a series of dots representing the degrees of latitude and provide for a measurement system. The equatorial line is clearly shown in its correct position north of the Golfo de Guayaquil and is of course a graticular line of the wind rose, precisely as the lines on Vellum 10. Thus it is easy to determine the latitudes and longitudes of the chart as drawn. The latitudes stretch from c17N to 10 ½ degrees south and the longitudes from 63W to 110W, the tip of Baja California. The 80W longitude as with the chart vellum 10 is part of the system of identification. However, when the degrees are evaluated as scale bar units, it is obvious the chart has a basic scale of 65 units per degree, and thus in all probability the Venetian measurement.
That of course indicates it is in all probability a Venetian Chart and not a Spanish Chart as the Library of Congress consider. Thus with the two charts having Vellum bases exhibiting the same punched features, the same scraping clean and the fact that Vellum 10 is unfinished and dating to around 1538/1540, from its latitudinal data and it includes the “doodle” signature of G B Ramusio, it is open to opine that these are both charts from the same stable and even author, probably Venetian and certainly identical in concept as they both use the wind rose graticule to produce the latitudinal scale of the charts.
COMPARISON OF VELLUM 9 AND VELLUM 10 PUNCHED HOLES ETC.
Library of Congress notes; “V9 and V10, central and S America, Pacific coast; V9, from Guatemala to N Peru and Galapagos isles and V10 Mexico to N Chile.
Both charts have irregular areas cut or torn at the margins as well as several holes. On each there are two double rows of pricked holes which extend across the full span of the skin and appear to have been made for thread or thongs. Their position and scraping however, seems to exclude the probability that they were used in binding a book. Although the two charts differ both in geographical delineation and in decorative design and appear to be the works of different cartographers they seemingly share a common provenance and history and are therefore considered together.”
From the above text analysis it should be quite plain to all that they share a large number of hidden attributes. That one is dated c1540 and the second 1565; I suggest that studying the works of any cartographer over 25 years will provide for sufficient differences to enable the question to be asked, “are they by the same person?” It is obvious they are from the same stable and hence in all probability the same cartographer. If as surmised the Vellum 10 chart is a trial run then it would be expected that following charts would be better prepared.
THE TWO CARTOGRAPHERS ARE NAMED AND THEIR INTERACTION WITH G B RAMUSIO WITHIN HIS TEXT “NAVIGATIONI ET VIAGGI” IS DISCUSSED.
Page 189B “Et pose nome a questa provincial, che era dirimpetto alla isola a della sacrificii, San Giovanni. Questa isoletta second la cosmographia e carta di DIEGO RIBERO, sta in 20 gradi, be che alcuni Piloti dicano, che in assai meno altezza, dalla a parte del nostro Polo. Nella medesima altezza sta la punta o capo di terra ferma, che sta nella foce del fiume del Porto della Villaricca, che molto tempo pri si fundo; che come appresso nella seconda parte di questa Historia si dira, fu a tempo di Fernando Cortese.”
And he named this province which is opposite the Island of Sacrifices, San Giovanni. This is according to Diego Ribero Cosmographia and map is at 20 degrees although some pilots say it is much less in height on the side of the Pole. (ie less latitude)
The Isla de Sacrificios is an island in the Gulf of Mexico, situated off the gulf coastline near the port of Veracruz, Mexico. The isle was named in 1518 when Juan de Grijalva led the first Spanish expedition to reconnoitre this section of the Gulf and Coast according to the account by Bernal Diaz, a member of the expedition. It is at 19.1751N and 96.0921W.
On the Castiglioni chart of 1525, Diego Ribero clearly names Villatica with an islet offshore.
But on the 1529 chart Diego Ribero not only names the Is de Sacrificies but also Villaritu.
(As an aside, regarding the note by G B Ramusio and the 4500 Leagues from Tumbey, Diego Ribero clearly names, “Salinas de la ciudad de Tunbex” and places it c5S as opposed to the geographical 3 ½ degrees south.)
Discorso Sopra; terzo volume Page 6
“Hora perche l’Eccellenza vostra per sue lettere m’ha esortato, che della parte di questo modo di nuovo ritrovato ad imitatice de Tolemoeo ne vole fsi far fare Quattro o conque tarde di quanto se ne sapena fino al presente, ch’eramo I siti posti nelle charted a navigare fatti pli piloti e capitani spagnueli e apperso volu toms mar dar quell tanto che lei n’harea gia haw to dall’illustre Sig, Gonzalo Oviedo historic Cesaro, si delle marine della Nuova Spagna e Isole del mar del Norte, come della parte, che si chiama la terra del Bresil e Peru nel mar del Sur, no ho volute mascar di non abedir a suoi comandamenti e ho fatto che Mess Jacome de Gastaldi cosmografo eccellente n’ha ridotto in piccolo tavole division car quella cura e diligenza che egli ha potuto maggiore.”
“Mr Jacomo de Gastaldi, an excellent cosmographer has reduced a universal “compasso” to a small “compasso” and that one divided into four charts with the care and diligence that he was able to master”.
This comment from Ramusio that it was a “Compasso”, not a tabula, Grafico or Carta Nautica, only serves to reinforce the argument that as the Arabs stated a compasso was not a “compass” but a Nautical Chart and the compass has no part to play in the construction of a Portolan Chart.
CHARTS BY GIACOMO GASTALDI;
There are several charts etc by Giocomo Gastaldi including his “Carta Marina Nova Tabula” from Ptolemy’s Geography which is dated 1548. It is a curiosity in that it is available in two formats. The first is a plain sheet unadorned by any graticules etc and the second approaching a standard planisphere with a complete wind rose system. However, it is the west coast of S America which is the obvious important feature; it runs virtually due south and as such is very similar to Vellum 10, the unfinished chart with the Ramusio name appended. G Gastaldi is responsible for the first printed map of Texas, Mexico and the South West and it focuses on the southern half of the USA and Mexico including Florida and Texas.
Gastaldis’ highly influential maps show the latest discoveries and the place names reflect the various explorations of the Americas. The River Spiritu Sanctu is drawn, the Mississippi, and also California as the Peninsula with the River Tontonteeanc, the Colorado River. The Yucatan is still an Island which was not corrected until 1561.
This chart is probably the best representation of the area on a regional map until the turn of the 17th century. It confirms Giacoma Gastaldi as the most important Italian map-maker in the middle of the 16th century as we can observe on a hemispherical chart a map of the Americas within Terza Volume, originally pages 455 and 456. It is headed “Universale Della Parte Del Mondo Nuovamente Ritrovata” and the first printing was 1556, but this version is from the second printing from a woodblock cut and published in Venice, 1565, and is 302 x 378mm. It is thought to be taken from Gastaldis’ 1548 “Universale Novo” featuring in “La Geographia di Claudio Ptolemeo Allessandrino”. That is only 5 ¼ x 7 inches but a masterpiece of Italian engraving.
That comment leads to the biggest problem with identifying an original Vellum Chart by Gastaldi used for this text as his work was normally engraved by A N Other for this publication and thus his own handy work is unknown.
Appended now is a single page text by Jim Siebold, an excellent map and chart researcher and cataloguer, who has on his website at; www.myoldmaps.com, four sections culminating in works from “1480 to 1900”.
Thus I have no intention of writing again when an excellent job has already been carried out.
Within that section there are four papers regarding the work of Giacomo Gastaldi. They are;
#376; Universale, G Gastaldi cosmographer MDXXXXVI
#383; Carta Marina Nova Tabula, G Gastaldi, 1548
#383.1; Universale Novo, G Gastaldi 1548
#393; Giovanni Gastaldi 1565, La Nova Francia. Terra de Labrorodor.
Included is Isola Hispaniola, Terza Volume P44r and as stated a viewing of the three volumes will indicate to all the maps and charts prepared for the text of G B Ramusio.
The two charts, Vellum 9 and Vellum 10 are undoubtedly drawn on Vellum from a single source and thus are in all probability by a single cartographer and could be dated to 1534 and 1565, but it is just as likely they are quite close in date as Vellum 10 portrays the coastline of the west coast of S America as the main charts by Giacomo Gastaldi. Thus the second chart Vellum 9 may well be one of the only examples of Gastaldis’ actual work, drawn on a scrap of Vellum as it was to be engraved by an Italian expert as per the others we see printed. Without good examples of G Gastaldis’ actual work it is very hard to be precise.
The fact that G Gastaldi became G B Ramusio’s cartographer and thus would be very well informed about the actuality of the “World”. With distance measures and the viewing of other earlier Planispheres, such as the 1529 Diego Ribeiro Planisphere (held in the Vatican Library) which must have been in Venice to enable G B Ramusio to comment on its minute detail was no doubt a boost for Gastaldis’ work and enabled him to become an accomplished cartographer.
The three volumes by G B Ramusio are a compendium of Geography and appear to have been collated over two decades from his appointment as Secretary to the Venetian Council and their publication in 1556. Venice was a great power and could obtain the document copies to enable this undertaking. Sadly volume four did not make it to publication.
Thus it is possible to opine that Vellum 9 and Vellum 10 are Italian, Venetian sketch charts prepared for an engraver to copy and be published in book form.
APPENDIX TO ChRAM/1; ANOTHER CHART WITH PUNCHED HOLES.
When researching a following paper a chart, quite distressed, was noted as being held in BNF Paris, reference Ge B 1425. It is attributed to Petrus Russus and dated c1516, but of unknown location. It is indicated as diagram ChRAM/1/D28 where upon itcan be seen four double lines of punched holes remarkably similar to the punched holes seen on Vellum 9 and Vellum 10. I have opined that both vellums are in all probability only part of the original chart, given that the wind roses indicate a greater original form for the charts.
Having seen the chart Ge B 1425, it opens the window to Vellum 9 and Vellum 10 actually being approximately half of a larger vellum; ChRAM/1/D28 being c760 x 580mm; Vellum 9, ChRam/1/D01 being c615 x 335mm and Vellum 10, ChRAM/1/D02 being c850 x 330mm.
Petrus Russus first extant chart is drawn in Messina, Sicily, 1508 and the second dated 1511 in Genoa. The chart GE B1425 is unattributed there-on due to its distressed state, but there is no reason at all not to assume that Petrus Russus did not travel to Venice after Genoa and produce this chart there. That being the case the use of similar vellum having double rows of punched holes similarly positioned in the central area of the vellums is quite plausible.
I would actually date Ge B 1425 to perhaps 1509/1510 and thus Venice is prior to Genoa as the form of the island of Ireland is archaic and the 1511 Genoese chart has a more geographical rendition of its form as per later portolan charts.
This is fully explored in a following text ChPJR/1 on this website.