The 1490 Rome Ptolemy bound for the library of Franz I of Austria
By PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius , 1490


  • Author: PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius
  • Publication place: [Rome
  • Publisher: Petrus de Turre
  • Publication date: 4 November, 1490].
  • Physical description: Folio (420 by 290mm), 174 leaves, double column, 53 lines and headline, 27 double-page engraved maps, four woodcut diagrams on a9v, a10r (2), and a10v, a few wormholes to lower margin of last five maps through to 2c6, collector's stamp of "Franz I" to title, eighteenth-century calf, gilt-edged, rebacked preserving original spine, richly gilt.

    Collation: A-C8 D-E6 (A1 blank, A2r Registrum alphabeticum, E6 blank); a10 b-g8 h4 (a1 blank a2r text, h4 blank); 27 engraved maps; 2a-b8 2c6 (2a1r blank, 2a1v registrum super tractum de tribus orbis partibus, 2a2r-2c5r de locis ac mirabilibus mundi et primo de tribus orbis partibus, 2c5r colophon Hoc opus Ptholomei memorabile quidem et insigne exactissima diligentia castigatum iucondo quodam caractere impressum fuit et completum Rome anno a nativitate Domini .M.CCCC.LXXXX die .IV. Novembris. arte ac impensis Petri de Turre, 2c5v-2c6 blank).
  • Inventory reference: 1049


Second Rome edition. “This handsome edition is a reprinting of the copper-plate maps of the 1478 Ptolemy [the first Rome edition by Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Buckinck, whose] maps are considered the finest Ptolemaic ones produced up to the time that the great Mercator engraved his Ptolemy of 1578… It is believed that Sweynheym was the one who first thought of applying the very new art of copper-engraving to the printing of maps, and he might have taken a hand in the actual engraving of them himself” (World Encompassed). While the Bologna edition of 1477 was the first atlas to use copperplate maps, the present series is generally regarded as superior for its clear captions, accurate projections and overall design. Also, there are indications the Bologna edition was hurried through the press: the captions were not engraved but stamped into the plates. The early Italian Ptolemys, particularly the Rome editions, are “superb testimonials of Italian craftsmanship without the picturesque but unscientific monsters of the medieval maps or the addition of the adventitious decoration of later work, relying for their beauty solely on the delicacy of their execution and the fineness of the material employed” (Tooley).


bound for the library of Francis I (1708 – 1765), Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany. With his wife, Maria Theresa, he was the founder of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty.


  1. Sabin 66474
  2. Shirley 4
  3. The World Encompassed 40.
  4. BMC IV, 133
  5. BSB-Ink P-861
  6. Goff P-1086
  7. HC 13541
  8. Nordernskiöld 7

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