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Portolano Charts

 Fonds — Folder: Dc.1.40
Identifier: Coll-398

Scope and Contents

This particular small collection is composed of charts drawn by Franciscus Oliva, one of a well-known family of Italian map-makers, in Marseille in 1650. The charts are of the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the coasts of Western Europe and North-western Africa.


  • Creation: 1650


Biographical / Historical

Between the 14th and early 17th centuries, portolan (or pilot-book) charts provided the main navigational aids between the seaports of the world. The term portolan (from the Italian 'portolano') refers to written sailing directions for seafarers. By networks of lines indicating the direction of one port from another, navigators were able to set their necessary courses. From such works, accumulated over generations, the first marine charts were drawn. Now the charts are admired as much for their decorations as their historical information. Most portolan charts of the Mediterranean were compiled in Genoa, Venice, and Majorca.


1 folder (3 charts)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Baillie Thomas Young, Edinburgh, 1690.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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