The uncommon first edition of the first isolario engraved on copper
By PORCACCHI, Tommaso , 1572

L'Isole piu famose del mondo descritte da Thomaso Porcacchi da Castiglione Arretino; e intagliate da Girolamo Porro Padovano.

  • Author: PORCACCHI, Tommaso
  • Publication place: Venezia
  • Publisher: appresso Simon Galignani & Girolamo Porro
  • Publication date: 1572.
  • Physical description: Folio (296 by 210mm), 12 cc. (last blank), 117pp., 1 c. (printer's mark), engraved frontispiece and 30 half-page maps within the text. Contemporary limp vellum with manuscript title on spine. Restoration to the lower margin of the frontispiece, some wormholes to the internal margins on some of the maps, skilfuly repaired.
  • Inventory reference: 12963


The scarce first edition of the ‘Isolario’, produced by the humanist Tommaso Porcacchi (Castiglion Fiorentino 1530 – Venice 1585). The work proved extremely popular and it was followed by many editions with additions and corrections.

The illustrations were designed by Girolamo Porro (1520-1604) and they represent Venice, Corfu, the Peloponnesus (Morea), Crete, Cyprus, Rhodes, the Greek archipelagos, Eubea (Negroponte), Sicily, Malta, Corsica, Sardinia, Elba, Majorca, Minorca, England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Island, Gotland, Santo Domingo, Cuba, St Laurence, Ceylon (Tabrobana), and the Spice Islands, map of Central and North America (mondo nuovo), plan of Mexico City, world map, nautical world map, and full page frontispiece.

“Porcacchi’s ‘L’Isole piu famose del mondo…’ is sometimes said to have been inspired by the Holy League’s victory over the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto (7 October 1571). Certainly, the ‘Isole’ is dedicated to Don John of Austria, the victorious heroof the battle…, but as the plan of the battle first appeared in the second edition (1576), the preparation of the first edition is likely to have preceded the battle.” (Baynton-Williams and Scutari).

In the first edition the Cyprus map has a heading without decorative woodcuts. The text starts with the woodcut capital ‘N’.


  1. Sabin 64148. For the map of Cyprus, see Baynton-Williams and Scutari 27.1: 1572i
  2. Mickwitz et al. 1981, 185 and 186
  3. Shirley 2004, T.POR-1a.

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