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Details 1561 Ruscelli Map of New England and the Maritimes (A true 1561 First Issue)
1561 (undated) $3,500.00

1598 Ruscelli/ Rosaccio Map of the North American East Coast

Tierra Nueva. - Main View

1598 Ruscelli/ Rosaccio Map of the North American East Coast


One of the First Acquirable Maps of the North American East Coast, Updated



Tierra Nueva.
  1598 (undated)     7.5 x 10.5 in (19.05 x 26.67 cm)     1 : 21000000


This is Girolamo Ruscelli's 1561 map 'Tierra Nueva', in its amended and embellished 1598 Giuseppe Rosaccio edition. In its first issues, this represented an early and influential map of the North American coastline from South Carolina to New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Even in this 1599 edition, this remains one of the earliest acquirable maps to cover the eastern coast of North America.
A Closer Look
The map spans from upper Florida northwards past Cabo de Santa Maria to Larcadia (Kitty Hawk), Angoulesme (New York Harbor), Nova Scotia, and Labrador. Rosaccio, in reissuing Ruscelli's map, adds not only the obvious decorative elements of the mountains, the sea monster and the sailing ship but also adds an array of place names not present on the earlier editions of the map. These were added in response to other maps on the market - notably Ortelius - which revealed new discoveries. The map's topography is the same as Ruscelli's 1561 iteration of the 1548 Gastaldi. The Gastaldi was limited entirely to the coast, while Ruscelli's map attempted to show a network of rivers and is among the first regional maps to illustrate mountains in the interior of North America.
Discoveries and Place Names
This 1598 edition is identified by the fine sailing ship and sea monster. Closer observation reveals that new information has been added in addition to these purely decorative features. The main land mass bears a new title - India Nuova - along with a note crediting its discovery to Columbus in 1492. Many of the newly-added place names derive from Ortelius' map of America. These include the placement of New France (Nova Francia) to the west of New York Harbor, the inclusion of the territory 'Avagal' (Avacal), and the nearby 'Mocosa'. Ortelius is not the only supplemental source. The English colony of Virginia is named, possibly from the 1590 White/De Bry map. Most of the names appearing in the Canadian Maritimes derive from Ortelius, such as C. de Laborador, and C. Fredo, as well as the Atlantic island of Sept Cites. The inclusion of locations from the supposed exploration of the Zeno brothers such as the islands of Icaria and Drogeo de Francesi in the Canadian Maritimes might derive from the 1561 Zeno / Ruscelli map. In the southeast in the vicinity of South Carolina appears the Porto de St. Helena, near an unnamed settlement which may have been La Caroline. A settlement of 'S ioan' (St. John) could refer to the C. de St. John.
Deviations from Ortelius
At the mouth of a 'Rio Grande' is noted a 'C. de lagus islas'. Both of these appear on the Ortelius, but on the present map they appear further south and to the west. While Ortelius associates these places with Norumbega, Rosaccio places them in a way which tantalizingly resembles Delaware Bay. Likewise the place name 'Claudia' appears here far to the west of its location on the Ortelius. Rosaccio locates the 'Terra Corte Real' amongst the puzzling network of rivers between Labrador and Nova Francia, while Ortelius' map places these north of the St. Lawrence River. Far to the north, Rosaccio includes an entirely new river and lake, 'Lago de Gusleme,' the derivation of which we have not identified.
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved for the 1561 first Ruscelli edition of Claudius Ptolemy's La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo. In 1598, this work was edited and republished by Giuseppe Rosaccio. Typographically identical editions followed but this map in the 1599 and later editions exhibits a prominent plate crack in the bottom border at 30° longitude not evident in the 1598. While only three separate examples are listed in OCLC, the map does appear on the market from time to time and the volume is reasonably well represented in institutional collections.


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