The 'Bicycle Spoke' World Map
By FLORIANO, Antonio , 1555

[untitled world map]

World World maps
  • Author: FLORIANO, Antonio
  • Publication place: [?Venice
  • Publication date: c.1555].
  • Physical description: Large engraved map on two sheets joined.
  • Dimensions: 460 by 835mm (18 by 32.75 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 1228


Antonio Floriano’s fine and rare world map upon a polar projection.

Floriano’s map raises some very intriguing questions. With its lack of either a title or imprint, one would assume that it was a proof copy, however all other known examples are similar. Second, Floriano’s decision to divide the two hemispheres into 36 globe gores would lead one to conclude that the map was intended to be dissected and mounted as a globe, as Shirley notes in its undissected form the map “lack[s] legibility”. However, with portraits of both Floriano and Ptolemy together with the elaborate strap-work to the borders, it is unlikely that this was Floriano’s intention.

There is also some debate on the exact date of the map. It is known that Antonio Floriano was granted a privilege by the Venetian state to prepare and publish a world map in January 1555, with the present map published in the same year. However, several authorities have questioned this, stating the geographic information (copied from Mercator’s 1538 cordiform map) leads to an earlier publication date between 1545-50. The engraving has been attributed to Paolo Cimerlino, due to the monogram that appears next to the portrait of Floriano, yet this seems unlikely.


  1. Nordenskiold, Facsimile Atlas, p. 94 & fig. 48.
  2. Shirley 99
  3. Gallo, Antonio Florian and his Mappemonde
  4. Tooley, Maps in Italian Atlases 23.