1511 Sylvanus Ptolemaic North Africa with red type.

Secunda Africae Tabula [Tunisia, Lybia, Sicily and Sardinia]

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SKU: NL-00023 Category:
Cartographer(s): Bernadus Sylvanus
Date: 1511
Place: Venice
Dimensions: 55.8 x 40.6 cm (22 x 16 in)
Condition Rating: VG
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From a 1511 publication of Ptolemy’s Geographia, Bernardus Sylvanus’s map of part of Tunisia, Libya, Sicily, and Sardinia is one of the earliest obtainable maps of the region and the first to be printed in two colors.

This Latin edition of Ptolemy was the first published in Venice, by Jacobus Pentius de Leucho, and was the first atlas to use two-color woodblock printing. The maps were printed in black with additional place names and headings printed with a separate register of type set in red ink applied with a second strike of the plate. This method was determined through careful study of the world map from this atlas, which, although meant to be a black ink word, is printed lightly in red as well.

Two-color printing was not pursued seriously again until chromolithography in the 19th century. As such, these maps are important documents for the history of the publishing trade, cartography, and printing technology.

The text was based on a Latin translation by Jacobus Angelus, with revised maps by Bernardus Sylvanus. Little is known of Sylvanus, a native of southern Italy, although he is believed to have been a monk. Realizing that Ptolemy’s maps were outdated, Sylvanus set out to update them with modern information, often from contemporary manuscript sources. The resulting effect was an unusual hybrid of classical and modern information.

A nice example of a map which very rarely appears on the market.


Condition Description

The map has been printed on two leaves that have here been rejoined and backed with Japan paper on the verso, with several minor areas of loss skillfully repaired.