Guide To Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library


HM 45 “King-Hamy Portolan Chart”

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PORTOLAN CHART, anonymous
Italy (?), ca. 1502
World chart, including America (portions of West Indies, Venezuela, Brazil and Newfoundland). Parchment, f. 1 (full skin); 585 × 942 including left extension (map size, 530 × 772) mm. Top and bottom border decorated with gold in trellis pattern, latitude scales form borders at left and right. Black and red ink for nomenclature in a minuscule script with area names in square capitals; land masses outlined in color with islands painted in blue or red, gold or silver; 12 compass roses with the usual 32 rhumb line network in black, red, and green ink for principal directions; double latitude scales (numbered 5° higher on right than on left) and double equator (to compensate for magnetic variation), no longitude; distance is indicated by a series of small circles in lower right corner; decorated with a few figures and vignettes (very faded). Unbound: originally a rolled chart, now flattened and mounted under glass. Possibly made in Italy after a Portuguese prototype early in the sixteenth century. A. Magnaghi in Il planisfero del 1523 della Biblioteca del Re in Torino (Florence 1929) 27 and G. Caraci in Tabulae geographicae vetustiores in Italia adservatae (Florence 1932) 3:62 attribute this chart to Amerigo Vespucci. It belonged to arctic traveller Richard King (1811?-76) and was bought in London by Alphonse Pinart (1832-1911); not in his 1884 sale. Obtained from him in Paris in 1885 by Dr. Jules Théodore Ernest Hamy (1842-1908). His sale by Anderson, New York, 19 November 1912, n. 3, with reproductions on pls. 4 and 5. Bought by James William Ellsworth. His library purchased by A. S. W. Rosenbach who sold this chart to Henry E. Huntington in 1923. Bibliography: Harrisse, Discovery, 112 and 431. G. Marcel, Reproductions de cartes & de globes relatifs à la découverte de l’Amérique (Paris 1894) 1:37-39, reproduction in vol. 2, n. 11. N. A. E. Nordenskiöld, Periplus (Stockholm 1897) 128-29 with reproduction on pl. 45. W. Gosling, Labrador, Its Discovery, Exploration and Development (Toronto [191?]) 59-60 with reproduction of portion of chart opposite p. 58. Cortesão, Cartografia 1:176-77. De Ricci, 44-45. H. Winter, “The Pseudo-Labrador and the Oblique Meridian,” Imago Mundi 2 (1937) 62, 71, 73. PAC, 8. R. Levillier, Americo Vespucio (Madrid 1966) 225-29, 266 n. 12 and 13, reproduction opposite p. 288. C. H. Hapgood, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings (New York 1979) 151-73 with reproduction on pp. 152-153 (this work should be used with caution, as there are many inaccuracies).
Abbreviations
De Ricci
S. De Ricci, with the assistance of W. H. Wilson, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (New York 1935-37; index 1940)
PAC
Canada. Public Archives. Sixteenth-Century Maps Relating to Canada; a check-list and bibliography (Ottawa 1956)

C. W. Dutschke with the assistance of R. H. Rouse et al., Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (San Marino, 1989). Copyright 1989.
Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California.
Electronic version encoded by Sharon K, Goetz, 2003.
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