Isolario – Vicent Garcia Editores – I/1261 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)

Venice (Italy) — 1486

The only surviving Venetian incunabulum with headings in original purple ink: the poignant poems of humanist Bartolomeo Zamberti next to ornate island maps in bright colors

  1. Bartolomeo dalli Sonetti (ca. 1473 – ca. 1543), also known as Bartolomeo Zamberti, was a Venetian humanist

  2. Aside from authoring the volume of Italian poetry at hand, he also translated several works by Euclid (ca. 300 BC)

  3. Printed in Venice by Guglielmo Anima Mia in 1486, this is the only copy to have headings in purple ink


  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)

Bartolomeo Zamberti (ca. 1473 – ca. 1543) became known as Bartolomeo dalli Sonetti because of the fine work at hand, which contains 70 Italian sonnets describing the islands of the Aegean Sea. Printed in 1485, these sonnets accompany woodcuts detailing not only the geography of the islands themselves but also hazards like reefs and shallows. The Venetian humanist was a friend of Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) and the text of his Isolario shows influences from Virgil and Dante. This codex represents a unique combination of art and science in an incunabulum, an early printed work, which was printed only 30 years after the Gutenberg Bible.


Bartolomeo Zamberti (ca. 1473 – ca. 1543), also known as Bartolomeo dalli Sonetti, is the author of this work of Italian poetry was a friend of Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519). The Venetian humanist was responsible inter alia for the Latin translation of the Elements by Euclid (ca. 300 BC) from Greek. He was also the author of this volume of Italian poetry. Printed in 1485 in Venice by Guilelmus de Panceretto Tridinensis, often referred to as “Anima mia”, it is an incunabulum – an early printed work. This edition exhibits a more varied typography than others and is the only copy to have headings printed in purple ink. It contains maps of various islands that have been highlighted and adorned with poetic descriptions. An index was included for the reader’s convenience. Historian of cartography Tony Campbell commented that the Isolario “is the first printed island-book; it is the earliest printed collection of maps, even if they are very localized; it contains the first printed maps supposedly based on actual observation; and it is the first printed collection of maps to owe no debt to Ptolemy”.

Books of Islands

Originating from the 14th to the 16th centuries, Isolari are navigational maps of Mediterranean islands. They were intended for practical use on ships and contained information about shallows, reefs, and other obstacles to avoid as well as descriptions of the coastline, rivers, and important settlements of each island. Bartolomeo’s Isolario belongs to the most refined class of this genre, which described the islands in a poetic manner and were intended for a wealthy, well-educated audience. In fact,** “dalli Sonetti” is an epithet that was given to the author because of the 70 sonnets in his work describing the geography, history, and archaeology of each island in the Aegean Sea, e.g. a reference to the Colossus of Rhodes**. These lively vernacular sonnets exhibit lyrical influences from Virgil and Dante and are based on first hand observations that Bartolomeo made in the course of fifteen voyages to the Aegean islands. What is more, this is believed to be the first printed Isolario and features woodcuts of the islands showing perilous spots offshore and forests, villages, and monasteries on the islands’ interiors. These charts are surrounded by the rose of eight winds circle for the sake of accuracy. Despite its refinement and poetry, this codex was still intended to be a practical guide for a navigator or captain with a little money to spend.


Size / Format
128 pages / 24.5 × 18.5 cm
Colored cards with handwritten additions
Poetry about the Aegean islands
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Isolario – Vicent Garcia Editores – I/1261 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 2006
Limited Edition: 3160 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Isolario

Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 2006

Publisher: Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 2006
Limited Edition: 3160 copies
Binding: Binding of parchment on wooden cover Cloth-lined presentation case with gold engraved leather spine
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
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