DUDLEY, Sir Robert, self-styled Duke of Northumberland and Earl of Warwick (1573-1649). Arcano del Mare. Florence: Giuseppe Cocchini for Jacopo Bagononi and Anton Francesco Lucini, 1661.
A superb complete set of 'arguably the most sumptuous [atlas] ever produced ... it was superior to any previous work' (Burden). It is celebrated as:
The first sea-atlas of the whole world
The first atlas with all the charts using Mercator’s projection
The first to give prevailing winds and currents
The first to give magnetic declination
The first to expound the benefits of ‘Great Circle Sailing’
‘The Arcano del Mare was a monumental and totally original task, the charts, representations of instruments and diagrams all engraved on huge quantities of copper over many years with an exactitude incorporating the minutest detail and printed on the best possible paper. The whole surpassed anything published before and not equalled in quality until fifty years later’ (Wardington).
Dudley's great sea-atlas Arcano del Mare was first published in 1646-1647, and is an extreme rarity in itself. The present, somehwat extended, edition was published in 1661 with the name of the Grand Duke of Tuscany on the titles as dedicatee. Both are extremely rare in complete and fine condition.
The work is divided into six books (or parts): book 1 deals with Longitude; book 2 details errors existing in sea charts and includes the portolano for the Mediterranean and 15 general maps; book 3 covers discipline within the navy and military, and includes a plan for the construction of a navy in five grades of vessel; book 4 is devoted to naval architecture and describes the method of designing and building ships of the 'Galerato' and 'Galizaba' types; book 5 deals with navigation and methods of measuring the sun's declination and the relative positions of the stars; and book 6 is the sea atlas. No standard collation for the second edition of Dudley's atlas exists, but the present set is extremely close to Wardington’s description.
The 15 coastal charts in part 2 consist of large-scale maps of the four continents: five relate to the Americas, including a map of Central America and Peru with a detailed inset showing the California coast, which is the first printed sea chart of the west coast of North America (Burden 266), and a map of the eastern seaboard that is the first printed sea chart by an Englishman of the eastern north American coast, as well as the first to record methodically soundings. The soundings in Chesapeake Bay are recorded only here: '[they are] curiously lacking in the more detailed chart published in the sixth part... The most interesting area is that of New York where any indication of the Dutch presence is removed' (Burden 267). In the dedicatory epistle to the second edition of 1661, the engraver Lucini states that 'he worked on the plates in seclusion for twelve years in an obscure Tuscan village, using no less than 5,000 pounds of copper in the making' (Phillips). Based largely on first-hand reports of English and other pilots of the period, the charts are exceptionally accurate for the time.
Burden The Mapping of North America I, 266, 267, 274-284; JCB (3) III:53-55; Phillips Atlases 3428; Nordenskiöld 70; PMM 134 (first edition); Sabin 21089; Lord Wardington, ‘Sir Robert Dudley and the Arcano del Mare, 1646-8 and 1661’ in The Book Collector, Vol. 52, no 2, Summer 2003, pp.199-211 and Vol. 52, no 3, Autumn 2003, pp.317-355.
Six parts in two volumes, broadsheets (565 x 420mm). 364 engraved illustrations on 180 sheets as detailed below. Contemporary Italian tree-mottled vellum over thick pasteboard, red and green morocco gilt spine labels, red and green mottled edges (endpapers replaced with full sheets of 18th-century north European paper, 565 x 840mm, horn watermark, countermarked 'RIOLA', extremities lightly rubbed, corners slightly more heavily). Provenance: unidentified armorial stamps on titles.
Volume I, Part I: engraved title vignette of a scientific instrument, 31 illustrations on 28 sheets of which 25 illustrations with volvelles, or moveale parts or string. Leaf of 'Indice General,' leaf of 'Avvertimento,' double-page engraved illustration of the patent from Ferdinand II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, confirming Dudley his titles, 15 leaves of text signed A-P (diagonal tear approx. 50mm in length to title repaired on verso with old paper and without loss, tiny marginal holes in lower margin, and very small repaired nicks at head, illustration numbered ‘17’ is a volvelle with 2 moveable parts that seems to have been assembled incorrectly with the scales beneath the volvelle disk covered, the final illustration numbered ‘9.27’ matching the printing of the 10th illustration also numbered ‘9.27’, but with the middle volvelle carrying different scales).
Part II: 30 illustrations and maps on 24 sheets, of which 5 are double-page maps and one single-page map is folded at edges), 8 illustrations with volvelles or moveable parts. 12 leaves of text signed A-M (faint scattered spotting and browning, heavier to leaves F and G, final volvelle with faint stain).
Part III: 8 illustrations on 6 sheets. 13 leaves of text signed A-M [N], which include 11 letterpress ‘figures’ (one short marginal tear to first plate, light browning to text leaf D, very small marginal stain to text leaf L).
Part IV: 18 illustrations on 14 sheets, of which 7 double-page. 6 leaves of text signed A-F.
Part V: 146 illustrations on 108 sheets, 1 of which double-page, and 3 folding, 44 illustrations with volvelles and 4 with string, 1 theoretical map and one map of Ursa minor. 13 leaves of text signed A-N.
Volume II, Part VI: engraved vignette on title of a representation of the globe with the lines of the Equator and the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, 131 nautical charts of all parts of the world, of which 80 double-page. Title-page, leaf of 'Indice General,' and 21 leaves of text signed A-T, T [V, this latter mis-signed 'T' and corrected in contemporary manuscript], [X, final leaf not signed, recto with text terminating in large metalcut decorative cul-de-lampe surrounding woodcut printer's device].