Bordone's Isolario
By BORDONE, Benedetto di , 1528

Libro di Benedetto Bordone nel qual si ragiona de tutte l'isole del mondo.

  • Author: BORDONE, Benedetto di
  • Publication place: Venice
  • Publisher: Nicol d'Aristotile detto Zoppino
  • Publication date: 1528.
  • Physical description: Folio (313 by 215mm), letterpress title in red and black with ornamental woodcut border, woodcut initials, full-page diagram of a world map and windroses, 4 woodcut double-page maps of the world, the city of Venice, the Mediterranean and the Aegean, 4 smaller double-page maps of Sicily, Crete, Cyprus and Euboea, 103 woodcut maps and plans throughout the text, some pale staining, contemporary limp vellum, a few splits along spine.
  • Inventory reference: 12893


First edition of Bordone’s popular illustrated guide to the islands and peninsulas of the western ocean, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Far East. It was printed again in 1534 and 1547 under the title Isolario or “island-book.” This work is particularly notable for its wide scope, with the inclusion of recent discoveries in the Americas, for its well-known plan of the city of Mexico (“Temistitan”) before its destruction by Cortez, and for its world map on an oval projection, cited as the first of its kind, perhaps attributable to Francesco Rosselli. Bordone, an illuminator, cartographer and wood-engraver from Padua, worked in Venice. He has been suggested as the creator of ‘the first globe printed in Italy’ (Almagia) from records of the now lost globe gores printed in 1508.

The isolario, or “book of islands”, was a cartographic form introduced and developed in Italy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Like the portolano, or pilot-book, to which it was related, it had its origin in the Mediterranean as an illustrated guide for travellers in the Aegean archipelago and the Levant. Bordone’s ‘Isolario’ was the second isolario to be printed and the first to give prominence to the transatlantic discoveries.

Divided into three books, the ‘Isolario’ is devoted, respectively, to the “islands and peninsulas” of the western ocean, to the Mediterranean, and to islands of the Indian Ocean and the Far East. While this order corresponds very roughly to that of Ptolemy, it gives conspicuous priority to the discoveries across the Atlantic. In addition to a page of diagrams illustrating the construction of a circular world map and wind roses of “ancient” and “modern type”, there are three general maps: Europe, the Aegean, and an oval world map.


Borghi Bartholum, surgeon (early inscription mounted on title).


  1. Alden & Landis 528/2
  2. Borba de Moraes I:112
  3. Phillips 162
  4. Sabin 6417
  5. Shirley 59
  6. Brunet I, 1112
  7. Palau 33033
  8. R.A. Skelton, Introduction to Tutte L'Isole Del Mondo (1966).

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