Only the second known example of Rossi’s re-issue of Greuter’s 1638 terrestrial globe.

One of the earliest printed cartographic depictions of the Great Lakes in more or less their correct form; the first naming of N.Amsterdam (New York) on a globe; the first time Lake Superior is given its current name on a globe.


Si Stampa da Gio:Batta de Rossi Milanese in Piazza Nauona Roma. Excudit Rome 1638 (at end of dedicatory cartouche).

26.5 cms table globe. Twelve copper-engraved full gores in original hand-colour clipped at 70 °. The two polar calottes are laid to the plaster-covered wooden sphere. The globe is mounted in a brass meridian ring, graduated in four quadrants. The wooden horizon ring has a paper ring in An early manuscript hand, with illustrations of the scales of degrees and the Zodiac, the signs of the Zodiac and eight compass points. The original mahogany furniture consists of four turned, tapered legs connected by two fretwork stretchers. The sphere is supported by a turned central column. Missing is the hour ring, commonly absent in globes of this age.

The engraving is clear and the general appearance and condition very good.

Published by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in Rome after 1638. ‘Excudit Rome 1638’.



Rome, c. 1636, 26.5 cms. Table Globe, Stand is uniform with the Terrestrial Globe, made up of twelve copper-engraved paper gores, two polar calottes, reading in Italian, engraved brass meridian ring divided in four quadrants, horizon parchment plate with degree scales, and signs of the Zodiac, mounted to the quarter-sawn oak panel with delicate beaded outer edge.

On its triangular four-legged wooden stand the globe can be adjusted and rotated. The star map used for this globe is based on the new observations made by the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. The celestial globe is a three-dimensional model of the heavens on which the stars are plotted on the outside of a sphere.

The Cartouche on this globe displays the following text in Latin : “On this celestial globe, are mentioned the fixed stars. Their number is greater than before as greater was the amount of care and the method needed to carry out the work. The new constellations have been added with regard to the students. The constellations, in agreement with Astronomers’ Prince, Tycho Brahé, and, in parallel with others’ observations, have been laid out in conformity with the very degrees of latitude and longitude of the 1636 Anno Domini. Done in Rome by Matthaeus Greuter, 1636 ”


Only the second known example of Rossi’s re-issue of Greuter’s 1638 terrestrial globe.

One of the earliest printed cartographic depictions of the Great Lakes in more or less their correct form; the first naming of N.Amsterdam (New York) on a globe; the first time Lake Superior is given its current name on a globe.

Not a great deal is known about Matthaus Greuter. He published many religious and mythological scenes and is recognised for his elegant engraving style. Perhaps his most spectacular production was a large twelve-sheet map of Italy, considered one of the finest ever produced of the country. Stevenson (Terrestrial and Celestial Globes) notes that he was born in Strasbourg, but spent his earlier years working in Lyon and Avignon. He appears to have settled in Rome some time before 1632 (the date of his earliest globe) and the excellence of his engraving skills achieved him great recognition and standing amongst his fellow Italian artists. Greuter started globe making relatively late in his career and if we accept his date of birth as 1566, his first globe was published when he was 66 years old. This 50cm globe was of such high standard that Stevenson was prompted to write “So well did he perform his work that he is entitled to rank with the leading globe makers of the Netherlands”. Certainly Greuter was strongly influenced by his Dutch counterparts, especially Willem Blaeu, whose globes Greuter copied. Stevenson notes that during the last six years of his life, Greuter went on to produce a 1636 celestial globe and a 1636 re-issue of his 1632 terrestrial globe. Then in 1638, Giovanni Battista Rossi released what Stevenson refers to as a “second edition of his globes of the years 1632 and 1636”. Both globes were the same dimension as Greuter’s earlier globes and both were dated 1636. Following Greuter’s death in 1638, his globes were published firstly by Giovanni Battista de Rossi and later by another Rossi family member, Domenico de Rossi, a number of which are detailed in Elly Dekker’s book Globes at Greenwich and Stephenson’s Terrestrial and Celestial Globes.

Our example of Greuter’s terrestrial globe was published in Rome by Giovanni Rossi following Greuter’s death in 1638. Rossi’s imprint appears on one cartouche while the date 1638 and Greuter’s name are engraved in another. This example is significantly smaller than the other two Greuter globes produced by Rossi that year (noted above). Stevenson, unaware of our example, notes what he refers to as a “unique” example of this 1638 Rossi re-issue in the fine collection of the Hispanic Society of America, the only other known copy. The engraving style, geography and decoration of the Greuter / Rossi globe closely follow that of Blaeu’s 60 cm 1622 terrestrial globe with a few significant differences, some of which were not noted by Stevenson.

Recent correspondence with Peter van der Krogt has established that another Rossi / Greuter globe the same size as our example and with the identical imprint, is held by the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam. This globe was first identified in van der Krogt’s 1984 Old Globes in the Netherlands.

Our copy of the globe however differs significantly from both the Rotterdam example and the other larger Rossi / Greuter globes issued in 1638. Firstly Greuter (Rossi) names New York (N.Amsterdam), perhaps the earliest globe to do so and secondly ‘L.Superior’ is named for the first time on a printed globe. Perhaps the most significant difference however between the other Greuter globes and our example, is the latter’s definitive depiction of all five Great Lakes, one of the first clearly recognisable depictions of these great American landmarks and the first on a globe. The other Greuter globes are geographically consistent with Greuter’s 1632 globe and do not show the Great Lakes.

It seems highly improbable that Greuter himself issued any globes in 1638. This is evidenced by the fact that Rossi re-issued Greuter’s 1632 and 1636 globes in 1638 as well as producing the Rotterdam edition in 1638 also. Indeed, it would seem from the 1638 date on Greuter’s imprint, that the Rotterdam example was ready for publication when Greuter died. Rossi was left to release the globe for publication after Greuter’s death, adding his own imprint. It would also seem that the Rotterdam example is in fact the first state of our globe and that some time after 1638 (probably after 1650 following the release of Sanson’s 1650 map Amerique Septentrionale), Rossi updated the globe geographically to show the Great Lakes and ‘N.Amsterdam’ (our example).

Our globe maintains many of the features of Greuter’s earlier globes, however the number of location names has been reduced. Furthermore, the dedication to Iacopo Boncompagni, which is present on the earlier globes, is missing here. The Boncompagni family was one of the better known and well-established families in Boulogne. Iacopo’s great-grandfather was none other than Pope Gregory XIII, himself famous for his patronage of the Gregorian Calender.

According to Philip Burden in The Mapping of North America, the first map to depict Lake Superior was Samuel de Champlain’s 1632 map ‘Carte de la Nouvelle France’ (Burden 237). Champlain (the founder of the colony of New France) notes three of the Great Lakes referring however to Lake Superior as ‘Grand Lac’. Although Champlain himself never sighted Lake Superior, he most certainly obtained information about its existence from the Frenchman Etienne Brule. It is noted that Brule accompanied Champlain to Quebec in 1608 where he was to become one of the most significant young explorers of the region. He is best known for his extraordinary path finding and scouting skills, which he no doubt learned during his twenty or so years of living with the Huron Indians. Brule soon became an invaluable translator and mediator between the Huron and Champlain’s French camp.

In 1621, Brule became the first reported European to discover Lake Superior, succinctly described in the writings of the ‘Recollet (Fransiscan) missionary Gabriel Segard: “The interpreter Brusle [sic] with several Savages assured us that beyond the Freshwater Sea [Lake Huron] there was another very large lake which empties into it by a waterfall, which has been called ‘Saut de Gaston’ [Gaston Falls, i.e. Sault Ste. Marie].” From its first discovery, the French referred to the lake as ‘Lac Superior’ or ‘lake above’, referring to its relative geographical location above Lake Huron. Incidentally, Brule failed to receive the early recognition he deserved. His years of living with the Huron attracted the intense disapproval of Christian Jesuits, who frowned on his immoral ways. Furthermore, his previous mentor Champlain accused him of siding with the British and leading them up the St Lawrence during their 1629 capture of Quebec. Ironically, Brule’s life ended unceremoniously at the hands of his former friends, who not only murdered him, but tragically, also ate him!

Burden states that Sanson’s 1650 map ‘Amerique Septentrionale’ ‘…is, perhaps, most important for being the first printed map to delineate the five Great Lakes in a recognisable form.’ In the next paragraph Burden goes on to say that ‘Sanson’s map is the first to name Lakes Superior and Ontario…’ The only challenge to Sanson’s depiction of the Great Lakes comes from Jean Boisseau’s map ‘Description de la Nouvell France’, 1643. Boisseau also depicts the Great Lakes, however Lakes Michigan and Eerie are not presented in a clearly recognisable form.

For his information, Sanson relied on the accounts (Relations…) that the Jesuits published annually and disseminated to France and Italy – particularly in this case those of Father James Ragueneau.

From 1632 until 1660, it was customary for the Jesuits in North America to send back to Europe yearly accounts of day to day life with the native Indians.

The representation of the Great Lakes and New York on the Greuter / Rossi globe are the first such representations on a printed globe.

We also see on Greuter’s globe an early attempt to delineate the territorial divisions of ‘Virginia’, ‘La Florida’,’Nuova Mexico’, ‘N.Amsterdam and ‘N.Seutia’.

Another area of significance is Greuter’s depiction of the lands north and east of Japan. In a marked deviation from similar maps of the period, Greuter shows ‘Estreito de Ieso’ between ‘Anian Reg.’ north of Japan and a large landmass to its east (presumably Nova Albion). This landmass is itself separated from North America by ‘Stretto di Anian’. This feature is not found on earlier Grueter globes, each which depicts the Anian Strait separating Asia directly from North America. Greuter’s depiction of the Strait of Iesso, precedes the first printed depiction of the Strait on a world map, namely that of Michele Baudrand’s wall map of the world published in Rome 1658. Of significance is the fact that another Rossi family member Giovanni Giacomo Rossi was the publisher of Baudrand’s map.

Another geographical feature that does appear on the 1638 globe as well on his 1632 globe, is the distinctive representation of the island of ‘Yezo.r’ (Yezo Region?) north of Japan (current day Hokkaido). Greuter’s 1632 depiction of Iesso as a distinct single island comes three years before Martino Martini’s 1635 map of China and Japan, noted by Lutz Walter as the first such printed depiction on a map (Walter fig.36; see also M.681). This is in contrast to Eluid Nicolai’s 1617 world map depiction where ‘Ieso’ is shown as an island albeit in two distinct parts. The Italian connection regarding this unique Iesso representation is as undeniable as it is understandable, given that the first European to set foot on Ezo and to note its island status was an Italian

Jesuit Gerolamo de Angelis in 1618. After returning to the island in 1621, Angelis tabled a report where he provided a manuscript map showing Ezo as a large island (see Walter Fig.83). Walter goes on to note that the first printed map to include the name ‘Yezo’ was by Christophoros Blancus and based on the “work of Ignacio Moreira, the cartographer who accompanied Valignano.” Ed Dahl Sphaerae Mundi notes that Greuter was most probably influenced by Blancus’ map, however it should be noted that Blancus does not actually show Yezo as an island.

Of further note is the graphic portrayal of California as an island on the 1638 Rossi globe. This is a new feature for Greuter globes and quite possibly the earliest such representation on a globe.

In stark contrast to Greuter’s up-to-date work in North America, his representation of Terra Australis Incognita is anachronistic. Ignored totally are the recent discoveries in Australia, discoveries that had already started emerging on maps by both Hendrik and Jodocus Hondius, Jan Cloppenburgh and Danckerts/Tavernier.

New Guinea’s northern coastline runs parallel with the coast of Terra Australis Incognita as it slopes to the southeast towards South America. Greuter shows it extending far beyond the Solomon Islands. The 1616 voyage by Schouten and Le Maire is noted in several locations from Cape Horn to New Guinea including a notation south of ‘Terra del Foco’ and the charting of ‘Staten Land’, while above New Guinea ‘Willem (Schouten) Eyland’ is noted.

Other features of Greuter’s globe include a graphic depiction of the Great Wall of China and the proliferation of sea monsters and galleons.

Stevenson pp.61-62, fig.103 (Hispanic Society of America’s example); Sotheby’s Important Clocks, Watches, Scientific Instruments Sale Loo724, 19 December 2000, lot 443; See other globes by Greuter : – Elly Decker Globes at Greenwich; Van der Krogt Globes of the Western World; Ed Dahl Sphaerae Mundi pp.125-130.

Product Enquiry