1528  Bordone, Benedetto

Isolario di Benedetto Bordone nel qual siragigiona

di tutte le isole del mondo... 

Books of islands or Isolario were very popular in fifteenth and sixteenth century Italy. Several early manuscript volumes are known, while the earliest printed Isolario was published c.1485 by Sonetti and consisted of 49 maps of islands in the Greek archipelago. Bordone’s island book, which first appeared in 1528 and was the second printed Isolario, greatly expanded the subject matter as it attempted to chart the islands of the entire world. His work is of particular significance for its fine oval world map and for “the first printed map specifically of North America” -- Suarez. For many years, Bordone’s world map was thought to be the first drawn on an oval projection, but it was actually based on an extremely rare map by Francesco Rosselli compiled c.1508. Unlike Rosselli, Bordone omits all antarctic lands and separates the continents of Asia and America. The lines crossing the map represent six wind directions, which are named in scripted text outside the map’s edge. Because the Rosselli is so rare, this map by Bordone is the earliest obtainable map to use an oval projection. “In his world map Bordone has essentially provided an outline, with graceful italic script and numerals on each of the islands, providing a reference for the more detailed maps to follow” -- Shirley. But of greatest interest is Bordone’s unassuming woodblock map on the verso of page VI, which is the first printed map of the North American continent. The map bears the words Terra de Lavoratore, which come from el lavrador, a nickname for a Portuguse-Azorean adventurer named Joao Fernandes. According to Suarez, “Fernandes may have tried his luck at western voyages under the Portuguese flag as early as Columbus had under the Spanish flag.” The Stretto pte del modo novo depicts the area corresponding to the latitude of the Caribbean, and the land mass shown below it represents South America. The ficticious Atlantic islands of Brasil and Asmaide appear alongside the Azores, as they did on other maps of the period.  Bordone’s volume also contains a plan of Temistitan or Mexico City before its destruction by Cortez.

 Sabin #6419; Suarez, Shedding the Veil, #18; Burden, The Mapping of North America, #8; Shirley, The Mapping of The World, #59; The World Encompassed, #83.

First Map of the North American Continent


First Obtainable Oval World map