1688 / 1697 Coronelli Globe Gore: Grand Banks, Azores, and Cape Verde Islands

[Untitled Globe Gore of the Atlantic Ocean from the Equator to approximately 50º north]. - Main View

1688 / 1697 Coronelli Globe Gore: Grand Banks, Azores, and Cape Verde Islands


The Atlantic Islands, Real and Imagined, from the Finest Printed Globe of the 17th Century.


[Untitled Globe Gore of the Atlantic Ocean from the Equator to approximately 50º north].
  1697 (undated)     18.25 x 11 in (46.355 x 27.94 cm)     1 : 12500000


This scarce, beautiful engraving is a 1688 Coronelli globe gore map of the Atlantic Ocean from the Equator to 50° N, encompassing the Grand Banks, the Azores Islands, and the Cape Verde Islands. It was engraved in Vincenzo Coronelli's 42-inch (3 1/2 foot) terrestrial globe, reprinted in 1697 for inclusion in his Libro dei Globi and Isolario. In addition to the above locations, it includes near the equator an archipelago labeled 'Revedo de S. Pedro' which may represent the Atlantic island of Saint Paul. Among the other islands featured is the mythical paradise of St. Brendan.
A Closer Look…
Coronelli's connections in Paris meant that he could rely on superb data for those places where the French were foremost in exploration: the gore includes part of the sailing tracks of Chaumont's 1685 embassy from France to Siam, for example. Coronelli also includes the tracks of the typical route across these waters from Europe to the Americas and back. As is typical of Coronelli's maps and globes, the present work is filled with historical and descriptive annotations. These discuss such themes as the yearly competition for the codfish of the Grand Banks by European fishermen (and, apparently, great flocks of birds), the possibility that the island of Madera was known to the ancients Pliny and Ptolemy under different names, and the discovery of the Cape Verde Islands by the Portuguese in 1460. A descriptive text in the lower left discusses the mouths of the River Amazon, which appeared in the gore to the left of this one.
The Imaginary Island of St. Brendan
Coronelli includes, about halfway between the Azores and the Cape Verde Islands, the 'undiscovered and believed to be fabled' island of Saint Brendan. This phantom island was first conceived as early as CE 512, when its namesake claimed to have landed on it and celebrated a Mass with a group of 14 monks. In his hagiography of Saint Brendan, the monk Barino mentioned having visited this same island in the Atlantic, describing it in such a way that it could be construed as the terrestrial Eden. Despite no concrete charting of the island, it appears on several medieval mappamundi. Portuguese sailors reported having seen, but not having landed upon it, and it was among the wonders that Christopher Columbus hoped to discover. Efforts to locate the island in the 16th century resulted in unprovable reports of visits and sightings, and despite the lack of concrete evidence it continued to appear for many years - though seldom accompanied by such a skeptical commentary as here.
In Context
Although much of the detail of this map can be seen to be substantially the same as that which appears on Coronelli's two-sheet America Settentrionale, the finer elements - such as the ships' tracks - appear to be unique to the globe. The globe engraving predates that of the map, which has a terminus post quem of 1690.
Coronelli's Most Beautifully Engraved Plate of the Region
The gore is of superb workmanship, visible in its well-placed, contrasting text, and its bold lines The general delineation is the same as would appear on Coronelli's two-sheet America Settentrionale and his two-sheet map of Africa, but close comparison reveals the engravings for the globe gore to be superior in detail and execution. Clearly Coronelli applied higher standards to his globes than to his conventional printed maps, as beautiful as those were. In particular, the sailing tracks appearing on this gore are repeated neither on the two sheet America map nor on the Africa.
Publication History and Census
This engraving was executed in 1688, as part of Coronelli's 3 1/2 foot terrestrial globe, and was masked off for inclusion in one of Coronelli's bound volumes: this sheet can be found in both the Libro Dei Globi and the Isolario. Scianna has catalogued only thirteen copies of the full Libro dei Globi in institutional and private collections; perhaps a dozen examples of the Isolario are catalogued in institutional collections. We see no example of the separate gore catalogued in OCLC.


Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (August 16, 1650 - December 9, 1718) was an important 17th century cartographer and globe maker based in Venice. Coronelli was born the fifth child of a Venetian tailor. Unlikely to inherit his father's business, he instead apprenticed in Ravenna to a woodcut artist. Around 1663, Coronelli joined the Franciscan Order and in 1671, entered the Venetian convent of Saint Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. Coronelli excelled in the fields of cosmography, mathematics, and geography. Although his works include the phenomenal Atlante Veneto and Corso Geografico, Coronelli is best known for his globes. In 1678 Coronelli was commissioned to make his first major globes by Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma. Each superbly engraved globe was five feet in diameter. Louis IV of France, having heard of the magnificent Parma globes, invited Coronelli to Paris where he constructed an even more impressive pair of gigantic globes measuring over 12 feet in diameter and weighing 2 tons each. Coronelli returned to Venice and continued to published globes, maps, and atlases which were admired all over Europe for their beauty, accuracy, and detail. He had a particular fascination for the Great Lakes region and his early maps of this area were unsurpassed in accuracy for nearly 100 years after their initial publication. He is also well known for his groundbreaking publication of the first accurate map depicting the sources of the Blue Nile. At the height of his career, Coronelli founded the world's first geographical society, the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti and was awarded the official title Cosmographer of the Republic of Venice. In 1699, in recognition of his extraordinary accomplishment and scholarship, Coronelli was also appointed Father General of the Franciscan Order. The great cartographer and globe maker died in Venice at the age of 68. His extraordinary globes can be seen today at the Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand in Paris, Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, in the National Library of Austria and in the Globe Museum in Vienna, in the library of Stift Melk, in the Special Collections Library of Texas Tech University, as well as lesser works in Trier, Prague, London, and Washington D.C. Coronelli's work is notable for its distinctive style, which is characterized by high quality white paper, dark intense impressions, detailed renderings of topographical features in profile, and numerous cartographic innovations. More by this mapmaker...

Alessandro della Via (fl. 1680–1724) was a Veronese engraver and illustrator working in Venice. His cartographic work appears to have been entirely on behalf of Vincenzo Coronelli, in whose shop he was, by 1688. one of the most accomplished artists. It is certain that he executed the plates for the 1688 Venetian edition of Coronelli's 3 1/2 foot celestial globe, which Coronelli declared to be far superior to those executed by Jean Baptiste Nolin for the earlier Paris edition. Learn More...


Coronelli, V., Isolario, (Venice), 1697.     Coronelli firmly established his reputation as a globe maker in 1683 when he created an astonishing pair of enormous manuscript globes for Louis XIV of France. These measured fifteen feet in diameter and were the largest globes produced to date. (The King declared these to be 'not the least of his ornaments' in Versailles.) Basking in his success - for which he was awarded a fifteen-year privilege - Coronelli was quick to produce a printed 3 1/2 foot terrestrial and celestial globe pair for sale to the public. The 1688 globes were the largest printed globes to date, and Coronelli considered them to be his greatest work in print. He was not without justification. Their superb engraving and encyclopedic geographic detail, not to mention their great size, set them easily amongst the finest globes produced in the 17th century. Desiring to display the quality of these works to a broader audience, and to challenge any potential competition, Coronelli published in 1697 a volume variously titled Libro dei Globi or Palestra Litteraria containing his globe gores. (The title page bore a date of 1693, but the earliest known printing of the book was four years later.) 1697 was busy: Coronelli also included most of the gores from his terrestrial globe among conventional maps in his Atlante Veneto and Isolario that same year. The Libro dei Globi presented the gores of the globes as completely as possible, resulting in considerable overlap but allowing the gores to be viewed consecutively, highlighting their execution as a single work. The gores were employed in the Atlante Veneto as conventional maps. They accompanied the text of the volume, were not shown consecutively, and were not intended to be viewed as a whole.

In 1686 Coronelli had contracted with the French engraver Jean Baptiste Nolin to produce an edition of the 3 1/2 foot celestial globe, and several geographical maps. This publication of work through Paris expanded Coronelli's reach as a map publisher and provided the basis for much of his early cartographic output. The terrestrial globe to accompany the celestial was not executed in Paris but in Venice, where Coronelli was able to attract some of the era's finest artists. Augsburg engraver Filipp Kilian provided masterful work on the cartouches. Most of the engraving of the globe was assigned to Alessandro della Via, whose work on the Venice edition of the 1688 celestial globe Coronelli declared superior to that of the Nolin. Shirley enthused:
The engraving and design throughout is of the highest standard with neat contrasting lettering and five large cartouches of singular grace and elegance... Coronelli seems to have sought to omit nothing that might be of interest to geographers, navigators, and explorers. There are an unusual number of legends, all explanatory and informative, but which never crowd the space available. Many of the vignettes of ships and fishing scenes throughout the world are worthy of separate reproduction.
Complete sets of these gores are to be found in the British Library and the Library of Congress: they are of extraordinary rarity.

Even at the time of production, globes were prohibitively expensive to produce and purchase in comparison with printed books. To compare, the 3 1/2 foot globe pair with stands cost 1240 Venetian Lire in 1697. The first volume of Coronelli's Atlante Veneto was 55.16 Lire. Therefore in order to reach a broader audience with his globes, and to get better return for the expense of producing the copperplate gores, Coronelli produced his Libro dei Globi which - though still tipping the scales at 310 Lire - would bring the magnificent engraving and detail of his work to those unwilling or unable to cough up twice as much for a single globe. It included the gores of all of Coronelli's globes - though a buyer hoping to construct the largest of these globes with the gores therein would have been sorely disappointed. The format of the books would not allow for the printing of the full-length gores of the 3 1/2 foot globe, which were therefore printed with portions masked off. Since this process did not change the plates, but merely obscured the parts which were not to be printed, it meant that different parts of the same gore could be chosen for different printings. This becomes significant when addressing the specific source of one or another of these bound gores: those printed in the Libro dei Globi shared consistent latitudes, and thus could be easily arranged consecutively and read as they might be on a globe. The same gores printed in Coronelli's 1697 Isolario did not necessarily share that consistency. For that matter, different copies of the Libro dei Globi itself likely contained different maskings of the same gores. Studies of the book - of which there are but a dozen copies identified - show them to be made-to-order volumes with great variation in the inclusion of supplemental materials. No two are identical. It should be rembered that none of the books were intended for the production of a globe, or to replace one: As Scianna points out:
If Coronelli really wanted to collect all the prints he used for the gores of his globes in a single book, he would have to realize a volume of 180-184 plates, whereas no copy has that many. The most extensive copy is the one kept in Yale that has 167 plates; therefore even in this copy several plates are omitted.
As alluded to above, Coronelli's Isolario, descrizione geografico-historia would see the mapmaker again employing the terrestrial globe gores - again, not as a representation of a complete globe, but as illustrative maps in a broader geographical text accompanied by conventional maps, views, and diagrams. The plates for the globe were approximately six inches too long to fit the format in which his books would be printed, so for the books Coronelli had the plates masked off at one end or the other to restrict the printed image to the half-folio sheets, and occasionally even smaller portions for insertion to the text. For most of the gores, Coronelli chose to mask the portions closest to the poles and to have the sheets centered on the tropics. In specific cases, he instead chose to present the areas ending at the Arctic or Antarctic circles, generally when there were features he wished to highlight: Hudson's Bay, for example, or Tierra del Fuego.

The publication of the Libro dei Globi appears to have spanned both sides of the printing of the Isolario. A number of these - which seem to date as late as 1705 - bear the title Palestra Litteraria. This translates roughly to 'Literary Gymnasium' but Dr. Helen Wattis rendered it as 'Literary Wrestling Match' to capture the spirit in which the book was produced. Coronelli presented the work as a direct challenge to any cartographer, geographer, or astronomer to 'criticize or to compare with any other globe, the globes of Coronelli.' A modern rendition of 'Literary Throwdown' might not be amiss.


Very good. Bold strike, with generous margins and no verso text.


cf.Rumseyn 10070.024 and Shirley, Rodney W., The Mapping of the World:  Early Printed World Maps 1472-1700, 537. Wallis, H. 'Coronelli's Libro dei Globi' Der Globusfreund (International Coronelli Society, 1970), Scianna, N. 'New Findings on Vincenzo Coonelli's Birth and his 'Libro dei Globi''. Globe Studies (International Coronelli Society, 2009) Schmidt, R., and Bridge, R., 'Vincenzo Coronelli's Methods of Work. A Supplement to the Article in Der Globusfreund.' Globe Studies (International Coronelli Society, 2014).