Little is known about the 15th-century Venetian geographer and cosmographer Giovanni Leardo, beyond the fact that three of his world maps have survived from late-medieval times, signed by their creator. This is the oldest world map held in the library of the American Geographical Society, and it is considered the finest example of a medieval mappamundi in the Western hemisphere. Leardo’s two other maps, similar but not identical, are in Italy, at the Biblioteca Comunale in Verona and the Museo Civico in Vicenza. The map depicts the parts of the world known to Europeans in the late Middle Ages — Europe, Asia, and Africa — and, as on many medieval wall maps, shows Jerusalem at the center and east towards the top. Archer M. Huntington purchased and presented the map to the American Geographical Society in 1906. In 1928 the society published a full-size color facsimile and an accompanying text by John K. Wright, The Leardo Map of the World: 1452 or 1453. Wright’s work was essentially a detailed description of the layout, names, and features on the map itself. Rand McNally also reproduced the map as a Christmas card in 1952.
Type of Item
1 map : color, manuscript ; 73 x 60 centimeters
Last updated: October 17, 2011