Leen Helmink Antique Maps & Atlases


Ruscelli / Gastaldi - Calecut Nuova Tavola

Certificate of Authentication

This is to certify that the item illustrated and described below is a genuine and
original antique map or print that was published on or near the given date.

Dr Leendert Helmink, Ph.D.

Antique map of India by Ruscelli / Gastaldi

Girolamo Ruscelli

First Published

Venice, 1561

This edition

1562 first state


17.7 x 24.0 cms


Copper engraving

Stock number





First state, with the copperplate running off the top edge.

Ruscelli's famous map of India is an enlarged engraving of Giacomo Gastaldi's 1548 miniature map of the Indian peninsula, the first "modern" map dedicated to India (superseding the anomalous Ptolemy map of the region) and entirely based on Portuguese sources and the latest discoveries.

Susan Gole ('India within the Ganges', p.47) describes the Gastaldi / Ruscelli map of 'Calecut Nuova Tavola' as 'the first separate map of the Indian peninsula'.

The Portuguese strongholds of Cochin, Calecut, Cananor, Goa (capital of Portuguese India and seat of the Viceroy and Archbisshop) and Diu are prominently shown. Ceylon and part of the Maldives are also shown. The map as a whole is remarkably accurate for the era.

Girolamo Ruscelli (1504-1566)

Girolamo Ruscelli (1504 Viterbo -1566 Venice), an Italian Alchemist, Physician and cartographer, was editor of a revised and expanded Italian edition of Ptolemy's 'Geographia', published as 'La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo. The newly engraved maps were based, generally, on those compiled by Giacomo Gastaldi for the Venice miniature atlas edition of 1548.

Ruscelli's atlas was issued several times between 1561 and 1599 by the following publishers

- Venice, Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1561
- Venice, Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1562
- Venice, G. Zileti, 1564
- Venice, G. Zileti, 1574
- Venice, Heirs of Melchior Sessa, 1598-99

The Ruscelli and Gastaldi atlases were the most comprehensive atlases produced between Martin Waldseemüller's 'Geographia' of 1513, and Abraham Ortelius 'Theatrum' of 1570. The significance of the Gastaldi and Ruscelli atlases cannot be overestimated. They defined the known geography of the world for decades. These atlases also reintroduced the use of copper engraving into the service of cartography, which was dominated by woodcut printing after several not very succesful attempts to print from copper in the 15th century. The Gastaldi and Ruscelli atlases proved that maps could be beautifully engraved on copper. As it was a harder material than wood, it was harder to engrave but also gave the ability to render much more detail. The Gastaldi and Ruscelli atlases marked a turning point in the history of cartography, from then on the majority of cartographic works used this medium.

"Ruscelli was editor of a revised and expanded edition of Ptolemy's Geographia which was issued in Venice several times between 1561 and the end of the century.

The newly angraved maps were based, generally, on those compiled by Giacomo Gastaldi for the Venice edition of 1548."

(Moreland & Bannister).