This is a beautiful 1688 Vincenzo Maria Coronelli globe gore focused on North America east of the Mississippi and west of the Chesapeake, engraved Coronelli's masterpiece 3 1/2 foot globe. The copperplate was adapted in 1697 for inclusion in Coronelli's bound atlases, masked off between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator to fit book format. The gore covers most of North America east of the Mississippi, spanning from the Tropic of Cancer to the Arctic Circle. Thus, it shows the northern Gulf Coast, Florida, Chesapeake Bay, the Mississippi River (after La Salle), the Great Lakes, and Hudson's Bay. The geography is substantively the same as that on Coronelli's two-sheet America Settentrionale
. Although that map bears the date 1688, it was not actually published any earlier than 1690 and it is very probable that the globes represent the earlier appearance of this geographical information.
The Great Lakes
Coronelli's delineation of the Great Lakes, overall, was the finest printed in the seventeenth century. His complete, state-of-the-art presentation of all five lakes represented significant improvement on Sanson's incomplete presentation. We see this delineation first in the Coronelli/Nolin map of the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi, which slightly pre-dates this engraving. (The second state of that map bears a 1688 date. Coronelli and Nolin contracted to work together in 1686 and so the first, undated state is no earlier than this.) Likewise, the Coronelli/Nolin map illustrates the upper Mississippi, with its imaginary mountainous western shore, prior to the publication of this map. Coronelli's mapping of the lower
Mississippi on this 1688 globe gore is probably the first appearance in print of his cartography of the region. Coronelli presents the Mississippi according to the report of the Sieur de La Salle's (1643 - 1687) Mississippi voyage, which appeared on Coronelli's 20-foot 1683 manuscript globe made for Louis XIV. The map notes the forts made by La Salle on that voyage, including Fort Prudhomme, and Fort Crevecoeur on the Illinois River. La Salle was infamously ambushed and murdered by mutineers in 1687, and the rest of his colony slain by Native Karankawa people in 1688. Although these events predate the engraving of Coronelli's gores, the grisly news of La Salle's fate had not yet reached France, much less Venice.
Carolina and Lacus May
Coronelli's mapping of the Southeast of North America is also likely its first appearance in print. Nolin did not produce a separate map focusing on the American Southeast, and the Coronelli/Nolin map of North America, which does include this information was not completed until 1689, after the printing of the terrestrial globe.
The portion of the coastline north of Florida and south of the Chesapeake region is labeled Carolina, running from Cape St. Francis up to Port Royal. Inland is a large, imaginary lake, marked L. May, emptying into the Atlantic via the R. May. The lake is an iteration of one of several large lakes which began to appear on maps with the 1591 De Bry/Le Moyne map of Florida, and develop further in the maps of Mercator, Hondius, and Jansson thereafter. In the earlier maps, the river is named but the freshwater lake (aquae dulcis
) is not. Jansson's map of North America applies the name to the lake, but not the river.
In addition to the Illinois and Wabash rivers, there is also a tentative (and remarkably southerly) presentation of the Ohio River. It is accompanied by text suggesting its source to be in the vicinity of Lac Frontenac (that is, Lake Ontario).
As is the case throughout Coronelli's globes and maps, the body of the map is peppered with useful descriptive text, making note of the explorations of Hudson, Joliet and Marquette, La Salle, and others.
Coronelli's Most Beautifully Engraved Plate of the Region
The gore is of superb workmanship, visible in its distinctive, contrasting text, its bold lines, and beautiful pictorial mountains. It contains a wealth of vignettes, focusing on the supposed way of life of the natives of the region. The evocative scenes include canoes contending with mammoth sawfish in the Gulf of Mexico, scenes of hunting (and also being hunted by) alligators, using fire to make dugout canoes, and other scenes of cooking and habitation. Most of these, if not all, are derived in miniature from the 1591 engravings of Theodore De Bry based on the various reports of Jacques Le Moyne and John White. The specific scenes reproduced on the gore are the same as those that would later appear on Coronelli's two-sheet America Settentrionale,
but close comparison reveals the engravings for the globe gore to be markedly superior in detail and execution: clearly Coronelli applied higher standards to his globes than to his conventional printed maps.
Coronelli's 1688 globe, the Libro Dei Globi, and other publications
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 20-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
. 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. In the Atlante Veneto
, the gores acted as conventional maps accompanying the text of the volume, were not shown consecutively, and were not intended to be viewed as a whole.
In 1686 Coronelli 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 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 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 remembered 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.
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 OCLC. We see seven examples of the separate sheet in institutional collections.
Excellent. Bold strike, with generous margins and no verso text.
OCLC 640150076. Rumsey 10070.022. 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).