Like the book by Mooney, this work is based on the collection of an individual, but it far exceeds the scope of the typical exhibit or collection catalog. The individual entries not only describe the map, but contain a wealth of information on the historical context of each item. Many obscure but interesting sidelights are given. In all, 61 items are described. Because the entries are chronological, one has, in effect, a concise history of the discovery and colonization of America, illustrated by maps. Since there was some confusion at first whether Columbus had reached Asia, one gets, as a bonus, a history of the early European exploration of Asia. More than 300 footnotes and an extensive index evidence just how wide-ranging this work is. Among the items described are a portolan chart, circa 1434, attributed to Batista Beccari, the Ruysch world, Martyr's 1511 map of the Indies, the 1613 Admiral's Map, the Finacus world, the "Florentine Goldsmith's Map," Zaltieri's America, a 1577 Italian globe, Todeschi's version of Blaeu's wall map of America, John Foster's Wine Hills map, and the Popple and Mitchell maps of America. Other maps more likely to be encountered by collectors include Münster's America, Ramusio's America, and Ortelius' Pacific. Jealous rival collectors will certainly want a copy of this book, but any collector or dealer will find this a valuable addition to their reference library. The items described in the book will be exhibited in Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, and New Jersey in 1991 and 1992. The strength of the Knafel Collection is in very early material pertaining to America, and the book and exhibit come just in time for the Columbus festivities/denunciations. I am basing this review on a pre-publication proof, but the book should be available in early 1992.
David C. Jolly, 1992
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