Giovio Globe Mercator Globe

The misreading of Marco Polo that led Mercator and others to locate the region of Beach on a peninsula of an Antarctic continent that extended well north of the Tropic of Capricorn to almost reach the island of Java Major is well known.   This misconception, present on the Mercator Globe, is adopted by Ortelius and lives on, in selected maps, well into the early years of the 17th Century.   The Mercator Globe, of course, shows this misconception, but the Giovio Globe modifies it significantly.  On the Giovio Globe, the extension of the peninsula, still identified as Beach,  is truncated so the it terminated below the Tropic of Capricorn, five degrees of latitude below its Mercator counterpart.  This departure is all the more unexpected because the most of Gastaldi/ Forlani series of maps, while they abandon the idea of a Beach peninsula, all show the Antarctic continent stretching well past the Tropic of Capricorn in this region.  An exception to this grouping of Italian World Maps is the Camico Map of 1560, which shows a very modest Antarctic continent.  Also, the Vopel World Map of 1546 has a relatively small Southern continent.

The Giovio Globe departure from its Mercator prototype in the depiction of the Beach peninsula is most interesting.  There is only one other instance where the globe’s maker departs significantly from the continental outlines of the Mercator Globe, the detachment of Greenland from North America, but in that instance the maker is reverting to an earlier and more generally accepted delineation.  Here, the change is emphatic.  At first glance, some lettering in the area, as well a few indistinct stretches of coastline, suggest that that the change might have been a manuscript change to the printed gores.  However, as a closer inspection reveals no indication of a reworking of the print, it appears that the change was made at the time of the engraving of the plate.  Finally, it is worth mentioning again that, in another part of the world, the maker of the Giovio Globe chose to stick with Mercator’s depiction of a stubby California, not delineating Baja California in his depiction of the world.