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Lot 71: PTOLEMAUS, CLAUDIUS. Undecima Asiae Tabula.
December 8, 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: PTOLEMAUS, CLAUDIUS. Undecima Asiae Tabula. Double-page engraved map of Southeast Asia, China and India on two sheets joined, as issued. 16 1/4x22 1/2 inches sheet size; ample margins, attractively hand-colored, mild surface soiling. Rome, [1478 or 1490]
"The Rome edition of Ptolemy''s Geography must rank as one of the most remarkable achievements in map printing. As with the Gutenberg Bible or the Mainz Psalter, we can marvel that something produced so early in the lifetime of a technique can be so brilliantly executed. The look is almost modern and, compared with the Bologna edition of the same work published one year earlier, seems centuries later in the sophistication of its production." (David Woodward, Art and Cartography, p. 195.)
A highly important early map of Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean published in the above praised Rome edition of Ptolemy''s Geography in 1478. In addition to the major inaccuracy representing a landlocked Indian Ocean, several significant geographical points are observed by Thomas Suarez: "After crossing east of the Ganges (whose Delta is on the left), we enter Aurea region, a kingdom of gold, which is roughly located where Burma begins today. Above it lies Cirradia, from where, Ptolemy tells us, comes the finest cinnamon. Further down the coast one comes to Argentea Regio, a kindgom of silver, in which there is said to be much well-guarded metal. Besyngiti, which is also said to have much gold, is situated close by… the Sinus Sabaricus would be the Gulf of Martaban, whose eastern shores begin the Malay Peninsula, and the Sinus Permimulicus would be the Gulf of Siam … A spine of mountains running north from there, in what is now northern Thailand and Burma, is according to Ptolemy, a "habitat of tigers and elephants." (Suarez, Early Mapping of Southeast Asia.)