Ukraine and Russia
By PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius , 1507

Secunda Asiae Tabula

Europe Russia
  • Author: PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius
  • Publication place: [Rome
  • Publisher: Novitur impressum per Bernadinu Venetu de Vitalibus. Expensis Evagelista Tossino Brixiano Bibliopola. Impante Iulio II. Pont. Max Anno. III. Potificatus sui Die VIII. Septebr M.D.VII.
  • Publication date: 1507].
  • Physical description: Double-page engraved map, on two sheets joined, on laid paper, later manuscript annotations in red, no watermark, two tears to lower left skilfully repaired.
  • Dimensions: 411 by 572mm. (16.25 by 22.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 12986


The map shows part of present day Ukraine and Russia on the northern coast of the Black Sea. Two mountain passes (Portae Albaticae and Portae Sarmaticae) are marked with Greek pediments. The Portae Sarmaticae was the only pass in Ptolemy’s time between Sarmatia and Iberia. The Pillars of Alexander are marked just above.

Map from the beautiful third Rome edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia. “This handsome edition is a reprinting of the copper-plate maps of the 1478 [and 1490] 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).