Vincenzo Maria Coronelli was born in Venice in 1650 and was apprenticed as a wood engraver and printer, before joining the Franciscan Brotherhood in 1665. In 1678, after studying Astronomy, Coronelli began working as a geographer and was commissioned to make a set of terrestrial and celestial globes, 5 feet in diameter, for Ranuccio Farnese, the Duke of Parma. This led directly to a commission from the French Ambassador, Cardinal d’Estreés, to produce an even larger pair for the cardinal to present to Louis XIV. Coronelli then went to Paris to construct the globes which were presented to King Louis in 1683. Fifteen feet in diameter, weighing nearly 4000 pounds and costing 100,000 francs, they were the largest globes the world had ever seen.
Coronelli’s globes for Louis XIV brought him fame throughout Europe as a globe maker. Returning to his native Venice in 1684, he obtained official support to set himself up as a publisher of maps and globes at the Convent of S. Maria Gloriosa de Frari and and within ten years had established himslf as the leading atlas and globe-maker of Europe. By 1697 he had published the first volumes of the atlas series, the Atlante Veneto, the Corso Geografico in two volumes, and the first part of the Isolario (1696). He described the Isolario on its title-page as being “supplementary to the XIV volumes of Blaeu”, revealing his ambition to be recognised as the successor to the great Dutch mapmaking firm of Blaeu. Equally important as his maps was his production as a globe maker, the cartography of the gores being very similar to his maps. His first printed globes were the 3 ½ -foot (42 inch) diameter published in 1688, at the time the largest printed globes ever made, which were produced, as reduced versions of the globes he had constructed for Louis XIV. By 1697 when he published the Libro dei Globi he had for sale five sizes of globes, in diameter 3 ½ -foot, 1 ½ - foot, 6 inches, 4 inches and 2 inches. The 3 ½ -foot he claimed to be the most perfect globes ever made. Only a small number of complete examples have survived, mostly residing in major institutional collections around the world. Separate globe gore sheets from this famous globe periodically appear on the market, but rarely complete sets.
This set of 24 map gores has been assembled mostly from maps published in Libro Dei Globi with a few maps from the Isolario. There were 4 editions of the Libro dei Globi, published in Venice in 1688, 1692-3, 1699 and 1707; it has not been possible to ascertain with certainty the exact date of every gore but one is dated “Venice, 1688”, the date of the first edition. This collection is even more remarkable as it includes the scarce north and south polar calottes.
This is an exceptional artefact, despite being assembled from at least two sources and will no doubt appeal to the collector of unique and uncommon geographical memorabilia. This June we are delighted to present this impressive set of gores at auction in our Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs sale in Edinburgh.