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Portolan Charts

Introduction to Portolan Charts

1485 Sonetti Portolan

Printed portolan of Sonetti, 1485

Printed portolan of Sonetti, 1485

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Bartolommeo Dalli Sonetti

One early printed portolan was written by Bartolommeo dalli Sonetti (for sonnet; his real name was Bartolommeo Zamberti) about 1485. The text, also closely related to the Liber Insularium written by Buondelmonte, has been put into short rhymes. The text is illustrated with printed maps, which have an advantage over manuscript maps because of the ease, rapidity and accuracy with which they can be duplicated. The disadvantage is the lack of detail that could be put on the woodblock used for printing. Woodcut maps could not serve the needs of navigators nearly as well as portolan charts.