BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
Beinecke MS 506
Venice, s. XV1
Portolano for the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea ("Marston Portolano"), in
Venicxia [chom Cha]orle intro griego e levante e milia [ ]. E Venicxia cho Ixola quarta de
levante ver griego e milia [C] ... E Famagosta chom Tripoli de Soria entro levante e sirocho milia
A list without title of 267 courses mentioning distances between two places and the bearing
according to a 32-point compass, in Venetian dialect. The edition by Kelley (The Marston
Portolano, see below), pp. 12-18 is not entirely accurate.
Parchment roll, 2580 x 150 mm., consisting of five skins pasted together. Damp stains have
damaged and even obliterated some parts of the text, especially in its first section. Ruled in lead
for three columns of uneven width, the first containing two place names and the bearing, the
second the word "mi(lia)" and the third the number indicating the distance between the two
Written by one scribe in black ink except for five lines in red (145, 151, 152, 155 and 171 in the
edition by Kelley); of these lines 145 and 171 are no entries, but rubrics introducing the sections
dealing with the Sea of Azov and the islands of the Aegean Sea respectively. The handwriting is
a small Southern Gothica Textualis Libraria under Cancelleresca influence; the latter is most
apparent in the shape of the letter g and in the horizontal approach strokes at the top of the
The majuscules are heightened in red.
The date and meaning of this exceptional document have been debated since it was
described in 1972 by its owner, Thomas E. Marston. Whereas Marston dated the document from
ca. 1300 and considered the possibility of its being produced as an aid to medieval portolan map
making, research by James E. Kelley has demonstrated that it cannot be dated before the
fifteenth century and that a document of this kind and containing so many errors could not be
used as a basis for the making of a map. Kelley consequently classified the document in the
category of pilot books.
Gift of Thomas E. Marston, Yale 1927, in memory of Henry C. Taylor, Yale 1917.
Bibliography: Faye and Bond, p.??, no. 238
Thomas E. Marston, "An Aid to Medieval Portolan-Chart-Making?", Gazette, 46 (1972), pp. 244-
James E. Kelley, Jr., The Marston Portolano. An Alternative View of a Fifteenth Century Scroll
thought to be a Cartographer's Guide, ??
James E. Kelley, Jr., Pilot Books. A Survey of Periploi and Portolani from Ancient Times through
the End of the Fifteenth Century, ??