This scarce, beautiful engraving is the globe gore presenting a map of the American northeast, the West Indies, and Terra Firma in South America, engraved in 1688 for Vincenzo Coronelli's 42-inch (3 1/2 foot) terrestrial globe, reprinted in 1697 for inclusion in his Libro dei Globi
The map spans from the Equator in the south to Newfoundland in the north, centered on the Tropic of Cancer. It includes Canada in the vicinity of the Saint Lawrence River and Acadia, New England and New York, and part of the coastline around the Chesapeake Bay. The West Indies are shown from the Bahamas to Trinidad, stretching from the eastern part of Cuba to Barbados, including the imaginary island of Fonseca. The gore's southern extents show the northern parts of South America, from modern day Venezuela to the Orinoco Delta and the Guianas, and the fabled city of El Dorado.
Coronelli's connections in Paris meant that he could rely on superb data for those places where the French were foremost in exploration, particularly French Jesuits. Hence, the mapping of Canada is remarkably detailed. The course of the Saint John River in the lands of the Etchemin people (modern day New Brunswick) is quite recognizable. The Isle Saint Jean and the Magdalen Islands are also shown. Oddly, Lake Champlain still appears somewhat to the East as in the Dutch maps, but it is shown more correctly in relation to the Hudson River than in most maps of the period. The Saguenay River is shown prominently.
Those Other Colonies
Coronelli's sources being French, it is not surprising to see the territories claimed by other European nations given short shrift. (Indeed, the part of the Atlantic off the North American coast is labeled Mare di Canada, ò Della Nuova Francia.
New England is confined to the coast, with its limits just beyond Fort Pentagouët. This, at the mouth of the Penobscot, was the oldest permanent settlement in New England, and had been the capital of Acadia, but changed hands between the English, French, and even the Dutch occasionally throughout the seventeenth century: here it is shown within the English sphere of influence, as matters had stood as late as 1670. At the time the gore was engraved it was held again by the French. New York is named (Il Nuovo Iorck,) indicating its passage from the Dutch to the English. Fort Orange is shown (Albany, now.) Long Island is shown, named 'Gunstable,' 'Long Island' and erroneously, 'Isola Degli Stati' (Staten Island, which is shown but unnamed.) New Sweden is shown on the west coast of the Delaware River, despite its having been conquered by the Dutch in 1655.
Coronelli shows the Caribbean in detail, largely following Dutch cartographic models. He divides the islands into specific regions - the Windward Islands, the Lucayes, the Leeward Islands - and also provides a key and legend indicating which colonial power held which islands. The engraving also includes the typical sailing tracks used by ships coming to the West Indies from Europe (via the Windward Islands) and that used by ships sailing from the Indies back to Europe (via the passage between Florida and the Bahamas, and up the coast.)
The Imaginary Island of Fonseca
Due east of Tobago is shown the 'believed to be fabulous' island of Fonseca. We first see this referred to in a 1682 travelogue entitled 'A discovery of Fonseca in a voyage to Surranam,' written by a 'J. S.' who may have been John Shirley and published in Ireland. It told of an island inhabited entirely by women - specifically of Welsh origin - who allowed no men on the island at all except for specified visits.
The male children resulting from said visits were said to be banished in early youth, and male visitors could stay no longer than a month.
Lake Parima and El Dorado
At the equator in South America appears a lake with the following Italian text:
Here most of the geographers place, on the west of the Lake of Parime, the ruins of the City of the Manoa del Dorado, which the Monsieur de Villermont writes are fabulous.
During the 1680s, Esprit Cabart de Villermont was one of Louis XIV's court scholars and correspondents, particularly interested in the geography of the American continent. He most closely followed the progress of French exploration in Mississippi but maintained connections with officials in Saint-Domingue and Canada. His best sources being pertinent to North America, mainly, he can perhaps be forgiven for falling back on older sources for his South American reports: the Parima/Parime lake began to appear on maps following the explorations of Sir Walter Raleigh (c. 1552 - 1618) - who claimed to have discovered El Dorado, what he called 'Manoa' on the shores of a great inland sea in the Guyana Shield. Subsequently, most Europeans believed the most likely site of El Dorado to be located somewhere in Guyana, Venezuela, or northern Brazil. Raleigh never claimed to have seen the city of Manoa himself, but one of his underlings, Lawrence Kemys (15?? - 1618) was sent in search of it. Kemys pushed east from Orinoco near modern day Ciudad Bolivar (Angnostura), into Guyana, where he encountered the Essequibo River. It was there that he picked up the trail of Lake Parima, described by indigenous peoples as resting on a great lake over 200 leagues wide.
This lake, although no longer mapped as such, does have some basis in fact. Recent geological studies suggest that in the 16th and as late as the 17th centuries, a large lake did occupy this region. Its remains, Lake Amaku, still rise and fall with the rainy season. During exceptionally rainy or El Nino years, Amaku can rise enough to inundate much of the Parima Flood Plain, creating the appearance of a vast inland sea. To underscore this, we have personally seen the remains of cargo ships that navigated down the Essequibo and onto the Parima / Rupununi before the water receded, leaving the ships beached hundreds of miles from navigable waters.
Parts of the Amazon were, at the time, dominated by a large and powerful Indigenous trading nation known as the Manoa - a name that appears on some early maps of the Amazon Basin. The Manoa traded the length and breadth of the Amazon. The onset of the rainy season inundated the great savannahs of the Rupununi, Takutu, and Rio Branco or Parima Rivers. This inundation briefly connected the Amazon, Orinoco, and Esseuqibo systems, opening an annual and well used trade route. The Manoa who traded with the Incans in the western Amazon, had access to gold mines, and so, when Raleigh saw gold rich Indian traders arriving in Guyana, he made the natural assumption for a gold hungry European in search of El Dorado. When he asked the Orinocans where the traders were from, they could only answer, 'Manoa.' Thus, did Lake Parima and the city of Manoa begin to appear on maps in the early 17th century. The city of Manoa and Lake Parima would continue to be mapped in this area until about 1800.
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 colonial notation in the Caribbean, and the ships' tracks - appear to be unique to the globe. The globe engraving predates that of the map, which was not actually published any earlier than 1690.
Coronelli's Most Beautifully Engraved Plate of the Region
The gore is of superb workmanship, visible in its well-placed, contrasting text, its bold lines, and beautiful pictorial mountains. The general delineation is the same as would appear on Coronelli's two-sheet America Settentrionale,
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 on his conventional printed maps, as beautiful as they were.
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 only one example of the separate gore in OCLC, in the Lanman collection at Yale.
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. Learn More...
Coronelli, V., Isolario
, (Venice), 1697.
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 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
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.
Excellent. Bold strike, with generous margins and no verso text.
OCLC 728322233. cf.Rumsey 10070.023 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).