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The Kraus Map Collection


Kraus 12.1, Nova et acvrata totivs Americae tabvla. (Between 1580 and 1600)

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Title   Nova et acvrata totivs Americae tabvla.
Alternate Title   New and Accurate Map of the Americas.
Cartographer   Gastaldi, Giacomo (ca. 1500 - ca. 1565)
Subject   America--Maps--Early works to 1800
Publisher   Bertelli & Camozio
Repository   Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Place of publication
     or creation
Date(s)   Between 1580 and 1600
Format   Printed map
Kraus catalog no.   12.1
Dimensions in mm.   1150 x 1396 mm.
Rights   No known U.S. copyright restrictions. Please cite the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, as the image source.


AN UNKNOWN REVISED VERSION OF THE HITHERTO UNIQUE WALL MAP OF AMERICA by Gastaldi, which is preserved in the Museo Correr in Venice. The Harmsworth map described by Vignaud (Journal Soc. des Américanistes de Paris, nouv. ser. XIII, 1921, p. 1-5) seems to be another variant.

The Correr map consists of nine sheets (of which six measure c. 330 x 430 mm., three c. 230 x 330 mm.), whereas our map consists of 12 sheets. Caraci offers reasons for considering the Correr map to be published by the renowned cartographical house of Bertelli and Camozio in the second half of the 16th century. The sheets cannot be put together in a manner showing the form of the continent correctly, a fact which has been interpreted as proving that the designer drew from different sources for the Northern and the Central and Southern parts, and which made Caraci doubt that a cartographer of Gastaldi’s high standards can be regarded as its author.

However, Gastaldi’s name appears on the revised present map in the added text sheet (see below). On this map the discrepancy has been amended by putting a newly engraved sheet covering the middle and southern areas of the territory which is now the United States between the first and second sheets of the upper series. Moreover, a small sheet (measuring only c. 365 x 102 mm.) which shows the southern tip of California with adjoining parts of the Pacific Ocean (named “Mare del Sur”), is put beneath the first sheet from the left. Thus, a fairly correct continuation of the coast lines connecting North and Central America has been achieved.

Since the map has become much wider, the resulting empty space to the left of Central and South America has been filled with a broadside description of the four continents, entitled Dichiaratione delle qvattro parti del mondo di Giacomo Gastaldo raccolta da piv famosi cosmografi et historici. This text is not identical with that of the little treatise entitled La Universale Descrittione del Mondo descritta da Giacomo de' Gastaldi Piamontese, Venice 1562 (mentioned by Grande p. 53 and Caraci).

The corrections and additions were certainly not made before the middle of the eighties of the 16th century, since we read the names La Florida and Virginia on the large new sheet.

The numerous legends, which are printed all over the map and give references to history of the discovery and the conditions of the various regions, have been discussed at length by Caraci, who found that they were derived from Ramusio. On the new sheet which presents the American South and Middlewest, are the following inscriptions (besides many interesting place names as S. Agustino, Chalaqua, Tastalifa, Xualatina, etc.): On the spot corresponding to New Mexico “La piu vicina provincia chiamata sette città secondo Marco Nizza, a buon paese, ma Francesco Vaschir riferisce che siano Luoghi di poco valore, et sono sotto la giurisditione della nova Granada”. More to the right a strange quadruped is described as “Questa fiera bestia si chiama Suca rache la quale vedendosi seguita da cacciatore si piglia adosso i figli e fugge per salvarli”.
The state of preservation of the map is not entirely satisfactory. Mourned on canvas at the time when it was put in the beautiful wooden Renaissance frame, the paper has become brittle and portions have been deteriorated and chipped off in the course of the centuries. However, the map gives a very good impression of the American continent and is certainly one of the great monuments of the history of the cartography of the New World.

Cf. Caraci, Tab. Geog. Vet., II, pp. 37-38, pl. XXXII-XLI, and Grande, Notizie sulla vita... di Giacomo Gastaldi, pp. 82-84 (who, however, did not yet know the large map of America).