Coronelli's rare townbook with the elaborate "Farnese borders", offered together with a signed letter and printed ephemera
By CORONELLI, Vincenzo , 1698

Teatro delle Citta e porti principali dell’ Europa… dedicate all’ altezza serenissima di Francesco Farnese…

  • Author: CORONELLI, Vincenzo
  • Publication place: Venice
  • Publisher: Coronelli
  • Publication date: 1697 [but 1698].
  • Physical description: Three volumes. Folio (490 by 342mm). 258 engraved plates incorporating 234 mapsheets (47 of which double-page), nearly all with engraved decorative borders printed from separate plates, recased in original mottled calf with spines in six compartments decorated in gilt, later endpapers.

    Offered together with:

    1. Italian letter in Coronelli's hand, dated 6 June 1688. Bifolium, 200 by 135mm, two pages, c.20 lines per page.
    2. French translation of no. 1. Bifolium, 220 by 160mm, with three pages of text in a neat chancellery hand, c.20 lines per page.
    3. Printed subscription form (1 leaf), 210 by 150mm, with manuscript entry by Coronelli.
    4. Manifesto dell'Accademia degli Argonauti, Eretta nella Città di Venetia. Bifolium, 175 by 120mm, with printed text on 4pp. [Venice,, 1692].
    5. Atlante Veneto, nel quale si contiene la descrittione... dell'Universo. Venice, for the author, 1691. Single printed leaf, 175 by 120mm, with title on recto and marketing text on verso.
    6. "Catalogo delle carte geografiche in foglio imperiale che compongono il Corso Geografico Universale del P. Maestro Vincenzo Coronelli..." Single leaf, 370 by 125mm, with two columns of printed text on each side.
    7. "Indice delle citta, fortezze, isole, Porti & altro di tutto il Mondo, che formano un Volume in Foglio reale serve anco per ordinare le Carte distribuite agli accademici, & Associati Argonauti, a' quail si consegnaranno le mancanti al solito prezzo di soldi Quattro il Foglio in Venetia." Single printed leaf, 310 by 125mm.
  • Inventory reference: 1180


An exceptionally rare work by “one of Italy’s most illustrious cartographers” (Shirley), here in its most desirable state with the separately-printed “Farnese” borders, especially commissioned by Coronelli’s patron, Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma. Together with the book is an autograph letter, signed by Coronelli, and printed ephemera illuminating his business strategy at a time when his globes and atlases were in high demand throughout Europe.

In addition to the fine separately printed engraved borders, noteworthy features of the atlas include the magnificent town plans of Siam (Bangkok) and Constantinople (Istanbul), and fine depictions of Table Mountain and the Cape. The maps of North America show the Mississippi with La Salle’s recent explorations at its mouth in 1681-1687; the extent of French ambitions are reflected in the title ‘Canada – Nuova Francia’ over most of the eastern half of the continent. The map ‘La Louisiana’ depicts the Great Lakes with recent discoveries. The northern and western coasts of Australia are engraved according to the voyages of Edels, Nuyts, and Tasman (1618-54).

The only other example of Coronelli’s “Teatro delle Citta” that we have been able to trace on the market in the past 40 years is the smaller, 154 map example at Christies, Rome, 16th June, 2005, lot 400, which sold for €99,200.

The manuscript letter expresses Coronelli’s wish to become a member of the ‘Societe des Globes’ in Paris, and announces the publication of the 3 ½-foot globes to an unidentified French patron. Both are dated Rome, 6 June 1688. One letter is a draft, written in Coronelli’s hand, in Italian. The other is a translation of the same draft into French, written in a different, neater, hand, and unsigned.

The printed ephemera include a small-format miniaturised sample of the title page to Coronelli’s Atlante Veneto, with information for subscribers printed on the verso; a Manifesto of the ‘Accademia Cosmographica degli Argonauti’ detailing the contents of Coronelli’s works in progress, as well as payment information; two sample contents leaves for the works ‘Corso Geografico’ and ‘Teatro delle Citta’ (the present atlas); and a printed subscriber’s form filled out in Coronelli’s hand for Jean Crozier, a French bookseller in Rome. Viewed together, the documents offer a fascinating picture of early modern marketing techniques, ranging from personal business solicitation to the use of serial publishing, subscription models and even an early form of a book club. The indices to both the ‘Corso Geografico’, and the ‘Teatro delle Citta’ also give an indication of collations for two of Coronelli’s greatest works; the ‘correct’ contents of which is a subject that has confused bibliographers, including the present author, for many years.

A Minorite friar, cosmographer and cartographer, Coronelli (1640-1718) founded the first geographical society, the Accademia degli Argonauti. In 1678 he built a pair of globes for the Duke of Parma that attracted the attention of the French ambassador, César d’Estrée who subsequently invited Coronelli to Paris. There Coronelli built the pair of gigantic, 15-foot globes which he presented to Louis XIV in 1683 and which would bring him fame throughout Europe. Upon his return to Venice, Coronelli was contracted by Jean-Baptiste Nolin (1657-1725) to publish a replica of these globes, scaled down to a diameter of 3 ½ -foot, and financed through subscription by members of the Argonauti.

Atlas Collation:

Volume I:
Engraved frontispiece with uniform title in manuscript in iron gall ink, engraved portrait of Coronelli, additional engraved title and frontispiece for “Gli Argonauti” engraved by Alessandro dalla Via after Lodovico Lanberti, double-page allegorical engraving, engraved title, two additonal single-page allegorical plates, portrait of Pope Innocent XII, three dedication leaves to “Franciscus Farnesius”, population tables for Venice and Rome on a single leaf with separately printed decorative border, part titles in manuscript in iron gall ink within decorative printed surround after Goos’ engraving for the title of his “Zee Atlas”, each part as follows:

Stato Ecclesiastico: Five double-page or folding allegorical engravings, including engraving of the arrival of Cardinal D’Estréés in Rome. IIII, four pages of text and nine engraved maps (of which five double-page)

Regno di Napoli e Sicilia: 12 engraved maps (of which three double-page)

Stato di Milano: Portrait Charles II, and 18 engraved maps (of which five double-page)

Regno di Francia: 37 engraved maps (of which one double-page)

Regno d’Inghilterra: Six engraved maps ((of which one double-page)

Volume II:

Teatro delle Piazze p.II, title, table of distances per degree of latitude, compass rose leaf.

Germania (covering Germany and the Low Countries): 27 engraved maps (of which one double-page)

Regno d’Ungheria: 23 engraved maps (of which five double-page)

Volume III:

Teatro dell Citta p.III, title, allegorical frontispiece, portrait of Innocent XII.

Regno della Morea: 26 engraved maps (of which 13 double-page)

Regno di Negroponte, Atene at Adiacenze: eight engraved maps (of which five double-page)

Archipelago: 22 engraved maps

Regno di Candia: 20 engraved maps (of which one double-page), and one text leaf key to large plan of “Citta di Candia”

Constantinopli: Five engraved maps (of which one double-page).

Africa, Asia, et America: 21 engraved maps (of which one double-page).


  1. Heck, A. 'The Coronelli Globe of Strasbourg Observatory', in 'The Multinational History of Strasbourg Astronomical Observatory', Springer, 2005, pp. 245-252.

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