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    First Edition of the First Printed Atlas of Africa

    Livio Sanuto. Geografia di M. Livio Sanvto distinta in XII libri. Ne' quali, oltra l'esplicatione di molti luoghi di Tolomeo e della Bussola, e dell' Aguglia; si dichiarano le Provincie, Popoli, Regni, Città; Porti, Monti, Fiumi, Laghi, e Costumi dell' Africa. Con XII tavole di essa Africa in dissegno di rame. Aggiuntivi de piu tre Indici da M. Giovan Carlo Saraceni. Venice: Appresso Damiano Zenaro, 1588.

    First edition of the first printed atlas of Africa, described by R. A. Skelton as "a methodical and precisely documented description of the geography of Africa." Large folio (16.25 x 10.875 inches; 413 x 273 mm.). [23], 146 leaves. Lacking the engraved title (supplied in color photocopy). Twelve double-page engraved maps, all mounted on guards and bound before the text. Decorative and historiated woodcut head-pieces and initials, decorative woodcut tail-pieces. Includes two indexes and a list of foreign words, and an errata (on the verso of preliminary fol. [24]).

    Contemporary vellum over pasteboard. Smooth spine (sewn on six cords) with remains of vellum label decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt. Vellum slightly stained, boards a bit bowed, joints starting to crack at head of spine, spine ends chipped, with a few pieces missing at head of spine, board edges rubbed. A few small pieces of tape residue on pastedown.

    Maps VIII and IX are relatively clean and crisp; Map II has a few small marginal stains, but is otherwise clean and crisp; most of the remaining maps are slightly browned and foxed. In addition, Map I has a few short marginal tears at the top and bottom edges; Maps III and IV are slightly creased; Map VI has a tiny tear at the lower edge where mounted; Map VII has a four-inch tear at the lower gutter fold; Maps XI and XII are slightly worn at the lower edge.

    Leaf a2 (the first leaf present) is worn at the edges and slightly darkened and stained; faint red ink stamp (?) visible in the outer blank margin of preliminary leaf a4; a few small ink stains in the text on I4 (fol. 36); O1 and O2 (fols. 53 and 54) stained; small ink spot on BB4 (fol. 100), affecting two letters on the recto; EE2 and EE3 (fols. 110 and 111) stained in the inner margin; verso of final leaf (OO6) darkened and stained; intermittent dampstaining in the upper margin; some additional mostly marginal foxing and soiling or staining; a few marginal markings in red. Small hole in the upper margin of preliminary leaf d3, affecting one letter in the headline on the recto; two-and-a-half-inch tear in the upper margin of F4 (fol. 24), affecting the foliation on the recto and a couple of letters in the side note on the verso; I2 (fol. 34) creased after printing, affecting a few letters; upper blank corner of K2-K4, N4, and V3 (fols. 38-40, 52, and 79) cut away; three-inch tear in the lower margin of L3 (fol. 43), touching a few letters; hole in the text of X4 (fol. 84), measuring approximately one-half by two inches, affecting three lines of text, with loss of part of one line on both the recto and verso; paper flaw in the upper blank corner of GG4 (fol. 120), about to separate; four-inch tear in the lower margin of KK1 (fol. 129), affecting a few letters, but with no loss; tiny hole in OO6 (fol. 146), affecting one letter in the catchword on the recto. Despite the above mentioned flaws, this is an excellent, crisp copy. Bookplate of John Ralph Willis on front pastedown.

    "As it is impossible for the thorough student of mediæval geography to budge an inch without having read the works of Marino Sanuto, so no thorough student of historical geography, especially African and American of the last half of the sixteenth century, can touch bottom in his subject till he has digested this work of Livio Sanuto. To him more perhaps than to any one writer we owe the clearing up of the subject, and the brushing away the rubbish and blunders of the inland German and French geographers of the previous half century, such as Schoner, Apianus, Muenster, Finé and others. Livio was the son of the Senator Francesco Sanuto, of Venice. In youth he visited Germany to study Mathematics. Being of a practical turn, he made many mathematical instruments, according to the precepts of Ptolemy and others, which were preserved in his family. He next applied himself to Cosmography, and collected out of the best authorities materials for a Terrestrial Globe, in which he was assisted by his brother Giulio, who engraved all the plates with his own hand. Observing that Africa was imperfectly described, he set to work and compiled this Book with its 12 large maps drawn by himself and engraved by his brother. He intended to publish descriptions of the other parts of the World, but died about 1585 [i.e., 1576], at the age of fifty-six. The present work is therefore posthumous and was edited by Damiano Zenaro, who dedicated it to Benedetto Zorzi, son of the Signor Aluise. The three excellent Tables of Contents were made by Giovan Carlo Saraceni. The beautiful engraved title page is by Giacomo Franco.

    "Books I & II treat of Cosmography in general, especially of Latitudes and Longitudes, and how to determine them. He speaks frequently of the Pilato maggiore Sebastian Cabot, and says that having learned from Oviedo and others that he had explained to Henry VII the variation of the needle, Sanuto became intensely anxious to know Cabot's point of no variation...At folio 16, he cites Barros, and says it is evident from what he states that Asia cannot be joined to the New World. He goes on to quote Zeno, who makes Engronelandia bounded by the Ocean. He then blames Oronce Finé...and Vopellio for joining Mexico and Cathay, and marvels how they could make such a blunder when Cortes, Gomara, and others had stated that the Mexicans fled at the sight of a horse, an animal which abounds in Asia. In a similar way, in many instances, he sets matters right. The rest of the volume is a kind of Gazetteer of Africa, arranged in departments.

    "In Book III he begins his geographical description of Africa, by giving first its boundaries and divisions, and then commencing with the Islands on the North-West, he describes the Canaries, the Cape Verde Islands, &c. Book IV commences with Fez; V with Telensin; VI with Numidia; VII with Gialofo (between the Rivers Canaga and Gambia); VIII contains an account of all the Rivers of Africa (he makes the Nile to rise from two great Lakes in the Kingdom of Prester John), and he then gives the names of all the peoples in Western Africa; IX Abyssinia and Egypt; X Ethiopia; XI Bugia, Barnagaes and Prester John, and XII Lower Ethiopia.

    "Of course Sanuto describes the manners and customs of Africa in this Gazetteer, but he does it under the name of each place. Speaking of Cairo, folio 107, he says that they punish a murderer by cutting him in two and putting the upper half of the body, with the head, upon a dish of quicklime, where, he states, it remains alive for a quarter of an hour, keeps on talking, and answers any questions put to it! As to Cattigara, he is of opinion that previous writers have blundered about it, for that in circumnavigating the globe, nothing was found but sea in the place where Ptolemy and others had placed Cattigara, and they thought that if it was in that latitude at all, it might be in the longitude of Peru" (Stevens). From the Professor John Ralph Willis Collection of Rare Africana.

    Adams S378. Mendelssohn (1957) II, page 269. Murphy 2212. Sabin 76897. Stevens, Bibliotheca Geographica & Historica, 2461. See also R. A. Skelton's Bibliographical Note to the 1965 facsimile edition of Livio Sanuto's Geograpfia dell' Africa.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
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