1647 Dudley Nautical Map of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, West Indies

Carta particolare dell'Isola Ispaniola è S. Gioni. nel'India ocidentle. con l'Isola Intorno. - Main View

1647 Dudley Nautical Map of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, West Indies


First printed nautical chart of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.


Carta particolare dell'Isola Ispaniola è S. Gioni. nel'India ocidentle. con l'Isola Intorno.
  1647 (undated)     20 x 31 in (50.8 x 78.74 cm)     1 : 1900000


This is a first edition example of Robert Dudley's rare 1647 chart of the northeastern Caribbean, embracing from the eastern tip of Cuba to Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, St. Croix, and the southern Bahamas. It is the first printed sea chart to focus specifically on this crucial region.
A Closer Look
It appeared in Dudley's Dell'Arcano del Mare, first nautical atlas to cover the whole world, and the first to be produced by an Englishman. It was also the first sea atlas to consistently employ the Mercator projection, and to indicate prevailing winds, currents, and magnetic declination. Thus, Dudley's nautical atlas was the first such printed work to be useful in actual navigation. The whole is rendered in the inimitable style of Antonio Francesco Lucini, who engraved all the charts appearing in Arcano del Mare. (A monumental effort - the plates required five thousand pounds of copper to complete the work.) Lucini's superb calligraphy and balanced composition - including attractively-engraved ships and compass roses - contribute to making Dudley's charts some of the most elegant, distinct, and desirable printed cartographic works of the 17th century.
The Earliest Printed Nautical Chart of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
With respect to charts of these waters, there are no printed precursors. We are aware of a surviving Dutch manuscript chart, a 1639 Vingboons, but it does not resemble the present work and it is probable that these charts derive from separate sources. For many of his charts, Dudley drew heavily on the best Dutch sources available, often the work of Hessel Gerritsz. But this chart is more focused and detailed than the Dutch chartmaker's 1625 map appearing in Johannes de Laet's Nieuwe wereldt, ofte, Beschrijvinghe van West-Indien; neither does it resemble the detail in the other general Caribbean maps appearing in Dutch atlases prior to Dudley's work.

There are enough accurate placenames of Spanish derivation, and enough accurate details to suggest that Dudley's source may have been a Spanish manuscript chart - perhaps one that passed to him through his connections in the Florentine court. The chart extends from eastern Cuba to Virgin Gorda and Anegada Island, and from Guanahani, the indigenous Lucayan name for the Bahaman island of San Salvador, to St. Croix. A host of early settlements are noted, particularly on Hispaniola, with depth soundings and safe anchorages: eleven anchorages are marked on Hispaniola alone, with three for Puerto Rico and one in the Virgin Islands archipelago. Vieques is shown and named (Biegua o Bauquen). The anchorage in the Virgin Islands is replete with depth soundings, but its islands are speculative and not well recognizable. It appears well to the west of Virgin Gorda and may correspond to the island of Culebra. The only 'placenames' in the vicinity are 'Cagada' and 'Passagio.' If the source of this chart was Spanish it is not beyond possibility that this is actually a notation - 'Pasagio cagada' denigrating the quality of that specific channel.
Publication History and Census
This map was completed by Sir Robert Dudley in manuscript form c. 1636. It was then engraved in 1646-47 by Antonio Francesco Lucini for publication in 1647 in volume II of the first edition of Robert Dudley's seminal sea atlas, the Arcano del Mare. This is the first edition of the map, issued for the 1647 atlas. A second edition of the atlas, also with this map, was issued in 1661. The later edition is easily distinguishable by the presence of the notation 'L.°6°' in the cartouche. We see a few examples in the OCLC, most associated with the more common 1661 edition, almost all associated with institutional holdings of the full atlas. We note few examples of this map, in any edition, on the market in recent times.


Sir Robert Dudley (August 7, 1573 - September 6, 1649) was an English explorer and cartographer, the publisher of the Dell’Arcano de Mare, one of the greatest nautical atlases of all time. He was the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester (a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I) and Douglas Sheffield, the widow of John Sheffield, 2nd Baron Sheffield. In 1594, Dudley led an expedition across the Atlantic, with the intent of harassing Spanish merchantmen. His expedition met with a series of misfortunes, but successfully returned to England the following year. In 1596, Dudley joined an expedition led by Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, against Cadiz. He served as the commander of the Nonpareil, and was knighted for his conduct in the capture of Cadiz. In 1603, Dudley made an attempt to establish his legitimacy at court and gain several inheritances, after being (possibly erroneously) informed that his parents had been secretly married. No concrete proof of the marriage could be furnished, thus the judgement was handed down against him in May 1605. Dudley left England in July of the same year, with his lover and cousin Elizabeth Southwell, who was disguised as his page. They married in Lyon in 1606 having received a papal dispensation. The couple settled in Florence, where Dudley began using his father’s title, Earl of Leicester, and his uncle’s, Earl of Warwick. In Florence, Dudley designed and built warships for the arsenal at Livorno and became a naval advisor to Ferdinand I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1607, James I revoked Dudley’s travel license once ordered that he return to provide for his deserted wife and family. Dudley refused, was subsequently labeled an outlaw, and his estate was confiscated. By far Dudley’s most important work was the Dell’Arcano del Mare (Secrets of the Sea). His most celebrated achievement, is the atlas of sea charts of the world which accompanied the work. This maritime atlas was the first nautical atlas of the entire world in print, the first made by an Englishman, the first to show prevailing winds and currents, and the first to use the Mercator projection throughout. More by this mapmaker...

Antonio Francesco Lucini (January 1, 1610 - 1661), a.k.a. Anton, was an Italian engraver and printmaker. Lucini was born in Florence born in 1605. Lucini initially studied engraving with Stefano della Bella (1610 - 1664) under Jacques Callot (c 1592 - 1635), who lived in Florence from 1612 to 1621. He is recorded in 1616 as Callot's assistant in Florence. After 1621, he joined flowed Callot in Nancy to continue his training. He returned to Florence sometime before 1631, when he published a series of plates on the Great Siege of Malta. He is best known in cartographic circles as the engraver for Sir Robert Dudley's seminal maritime atlas Dell'Arcano del Mare (Of the Mysteries of the Sea), published in Florence in 1645 - 1646. The 200 engraved plates and 146 charts which Lucini produced for Dudley occupied 12 years occupied 12 years of his life and consumed some 5000lbs of copper. The engravings exhibit Lucini’s masterful craftsmanship and are outstanding examples of Italian Baroque engraving. Indeed, while Dudley was a master chartmaker, it is Lucini's virtuoso engraving and fine calligraphy that most define Dudley's work. Learn More...


Dudley, R., Dell'Arcano del Mare, (Florence: Francesco Onofri) 1647.     Dell’Arcano del Mare (Secrets of the Sea) is a six volume 17th century maritime encyclopedia by English nobleman Sir Robert Dudley (1573 - 1649). It is considered to be one of the most important maritime atlases of all time, the first of its kind in print: the first sea atlas to treat the entire world (not just Europe), the first by an Englishman, the first to illustrate prevailing winds and currents, and the first to universally employ a Mercator projection. The charts themselves are notable for being all new works, created by Dudley based upon a lifetime of collecting maritime data. All of the roughly 130 known charts in the Dell’Arcano del Mare were engraved in the Italian baroque ethic by Antonio Francesco Lucini, a Florentine master engraver. It is said that the work took Lucini 12 years and consumed more than 5000lbs of copper. It was published in Florence between 1645 and 1646 in six folio volumes. Another edition was issued in 1661 but contained fewer charts.


Good. Minor repaired wormholes along centerfold filled, with no impact to printed image. Mended incision at upper centerfold. Faint centerfold toning.


Boston Public Library, Leventhal, G1059 .D84 1647. Shirley, R.,  Maps in the atlases of the British Library, R., M.Dud-1a, 119. OCLC 1142907073 (1661), 1098216902 (1647).