BORDONE, Benedetto (1460-1539). Libro di Benedetto Bordone nel qual si ragiona de tutte l'isole del mondo. Venice: [Paulis Manutius Aldus for] Federico Torresano, 1547.

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Folio (11 6/8 x 8 inches). Title-page printed in red and black with Torresano's woodcut tower device and within and elaborate floriated border with dolphins. 3 fine double-page woodcut maps, double-page woodcut town plan of Venice, 2 full-page, 2 double half-page, and 105 woodcut maps and town plans in the text. Early 19th-century brown morocco gilt, each cover decorated with a fine central gilt stamp of the Aldus device, all edges gilt (front cover detached).  

Provenance: early Latin inscription "D[eus] nobis haec otia" (God has given us our tranquility") at the foot of the title-page.  


First Aldine press edition, following the two Zappino editions of 1528 and 1534, and printed using the same woodblocks. The double-page maps include a fine woodcut of the world on an oval projection based on that of Francesco Rosselli, and depicting the eastern coastline of America as "Terra del Laboratore" and "Ponete modo novo", Europe and the northern coastline of Africa, Asia, and a fine plan of Venice. "Terra de Lavoratore" represents the Atlantic coast of Canada, and "p[ar]te del mondo novo" ("part of the New World") corresponding to the Caribbean Sea. Beneath that textual indication, at the lower margin of the map, Bordone included a corner of South America.

Others maps related to the new world include woodcuts of Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, "La gran citta di Temistican" (modern-day Mexico City) before its destruction by Cortez, and several of the West Indies. The "Copia delle Lettere de Perfetto della India la Nova Spagna detta alla Cesarea Maesta," not included in Zappino's 1528 edition (but in the 1534 edition), is the earliest printed account of Pizzarro's entry into Peru.

The isolario, or book of islands, was a popular genre that had first appeared in manuscript examples by Cristoforo Buondelmonte dating from the early fifteenth century, then in printed versions by Bartolommeo dalli Sonetti from the late 1400s. More so than its predecessors, the isolario first published in 1528 by Venice-based cartographer Benedetto Bordone was formative for Renaissance geographical conceptions. Bordone's early sixteenth-century treatment of the island-atlas theme greatly expanded upon the earlier works, augmenting the conventional focus on the eastern Mediterranean to encompass maps of other parts of Europe and the world, stretching as far as the Indian Ocean, the African coastline and the New World. Bordone's maps of islands in the West Indies, and the Pacific: Sumatra and Java, and even one of Japan based on the suppositions of Marco Polo, although schematic in their outlines (perhaps reflecting the author's training as a miniaturist as opposed to a cartographer), were among the first nautical charts of these regions to become widely available. Brown, The World Encompassed, exh. cat. (Baltimore, 1952), n. 83; Burden, 11.; Shirley 59.