Thomas Suárez Rare Maps
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Medieval mappamundi, in the Mer des Hystoires
Lyon 1491 / Paris, 1555
(see listing in Books)
The Last Great Pre-Columbian World Map
[Untitled World Map]. Hartmann Schedel. Woodcut. Nuremberg,
Anton Koberger, 1493 (first issue of two).
Excellent. Full sheet 18 x 23 in / 46 x 58 cm.
An excellent, unrestored example of this famous map of the world essentially as known to Columbus, and dating from the year news of his discovery reached Europe.
Schedel's flamboyant world map forms a brilliant mirror of the Middle Ages, a looking glass through which one can pass to glimpse the dawn of the Renaissance. Its peculiar birthdate, 4 months after Columbus returned from his first Atlantic voyage, clearly places it as the final great pre-Columbian view of the earth. Its Ptolemaic provenance reflects a major catalyst of the Renaissance while, paradoxically, linking it with antiquity and lost Alexandrian culture. Ethnological monsters bred by travel lore of the Middle Ages guard the left border, and the three men Biblically responsible for seeding post-flood humanity, Ham, Shem, and Japhet, flank and support the map, presenting to the viewer the world which they begot.
First Oval World Map in an Atlas
[untitled world map]
Benedetto Bordone, Venice, 1528 (1534?). Map proper, without text or margins 8.5 x 15 in / 30 x 41 cm.
Bordone's world map, one of few pre-Munster world maps that are ever obtainable, was responsible for popularizing the oval projection. It is preceded in use of the projection only by the separately-published map of Rosselli, which is known in only a few examples and was doubtfully of influence in this regard. Bordone thus set the stage for the many subsequent maps, e.g., those of Grynaeus (1532), Munster (1540), Gastaldi (1546), many of the "Lafreri"'-type world maps, and Ortelius (1570/1587).
Although Bordone was granted a privilege to print a world map as early as 1508, no such work is known until this map of 1528. It bears some resemblance to the Rosselli map of ca. 1508, but with an evolved view of America. Whereas the Rosselli depicts North America as part of Asia, Bordone give North America an arbitrary western coast to render it autonomous.
Bordone depicts a modern Africa, but a Ptolemaic India and Ceylon. Southeast Asia is modelled after the typical thinking of the time, a large subcontinent offsetting the Austronesian islands to the south. Japan is shown hypothetically after Polos textual account. The island of Madagascar is duplicated, and the Indus and Ganges Rivers are reversed. This map is an interesting bridge between maps of the first and second quarters of the century.
The Oronce Fine World Map — Rare First State
Orontio Fineaus, Paris, 1531:
Nova, et Integra Universi Orbis Descriptio.
Excellent. 11.5 x 16.5 inches.
Woodcut map on a double-cordiform projection.
The rare first state of the world map of Orontius Finaeus.
One of the most compelling questions facing mapmakers in the first half of the sixteenth century was that of the relationship of the New World to the Orient. The question almost always pertained to North America; South America had grown on its own as truly a new world, connecting to Asia only via Central and North America, if the three Americas were contigeous and if North America connected to Asia (for example, in the maps of Gastaldi).
But Fineaus here adopts a different and very radical stance: both North and South America are individual extensions of Asia. This is the completion of a cycle that began when the old landbridge connecting Southeast Asia with Africa on Ptolemaic maps was opened by some cartographers late the previous century after the voyage of Vasco da Gama. The residue of that landbridge appeared as a very large ‘extra’ Southeast Asian peninsula (for example, the world map of Waldseemuller, 1513). By coincidence, the peninsula occupied the approximate place that Central America would if the West Indies were Australasian islands, and thus its appearance on some maps lent credence to Columbus’ belief that Central America, which he reached on his fourth and last voyage (1502-03), was part of an Asian peninsula, the Cattigara of Ptolemy. Finally, Fineaus predicated his map on Columbus’ contention, transforming the earlier vestige of Ptolemy's Africa-Asia landbridge into a “true” Central and South America. Thus there are three Asian peninsulas in Fineaus’ Indian Ocean (upper left-side of map): counter-clockwise they are India, the Malay peninsula, and Central/South America. Columbus’ belief that Central America was an Asian peninsula has been accomodated, and the place-names of the Orient cohabit with those of America (one theory holds that Ptolemy’s Africa-Asia landbridge did in fact represent America). North America is a continental extension of Asia, without even the Amerasian gulf which partitioned the two on other maps showing them connected.
From the Apianus Cosmography
Peter Apianus / Gemma Frisius, 1544 /1584
Woodblock illustration with world map
From the Apianus Cosmography
Peter Apianus / Gemma Frisius, 1544 /1584
Sea Chart based on Gastaldi
Girolamo Ruscelli, 1561 /1574:
Carta Marina Nuova Tavola. Excellent. 7 x 10 inches.
In 1561 Girolamo Ruscelli (ca. 1504-1566) adapted the maps of Gastaldi's 1548 Ptolemy for a new edition, twice the size of the Gastaldi plates. He continued the fine engraving quality of Gastaldi. According to Thomassy (Les Papes geographes in Nouv. Ann. de Voygaes, 33, 1853, p.155) these particular maps served for the models for the wall-paintings done in the Vatican during the reign of Pope Pius IV. The present example is from an issue by Rosaccio, unchanged save for wider margins and an additional typeset heading above the engraved title.
This sea chart of the world depicts the entirety of the continental northern landmasses as an unbroken ring around the globe. North America and Asia form a single mammoth continent, which in turn connects to northern Europe via Greenland. The Asia-America connection was a standard concept, and one of which Gastaldi (and in turn Ruscelli) was a particularly strong endorser. This maps linking of North America and Europe is highly unusual, however, but was a natural consequence of two errors : on the east, Gastaldi depicts Greenland as an elongated east-west outgrowth of Scandinavia, a peculiar pattern used by Waldseemller earlier in the century on the world map from his atlas of 1513; on the west, he adopts the Verrazanian model for North America which had been sanctioned by Mnster in 1540. In combination, these two flawed elements stretched out over the North Atlantic and, quite logically, joined.
First Double-Hemisphere Map in an Atlas
Girolamo Ruscelli, 1561 (Rosaccio, 1599): Orbis Descriptio.
The 1561 Ruscelli atlas contained the text of the Geographia with 64 copperplate maps. It was a new translation into Italian with numerous remarks and extensive addenda. Most of the maps are enlarged copies of the maps in the edition of 1548 by Gastaldi. But this world map on a double-hemisphere projection, Orbis descriptio, is new. Nordenskiold describes this map as being extremely well designed, and engraved on copper with Italian taste and Italian skill.
Ptolemaic World Map
Ptolemy / Ruscelli, 1574 /1599
This map of the world as known to Ptolemy was added in 1574 edition of Ruscelli's Geografia.
The Mercator World Map
First Atlas Issue
Orbis Terrrae Compendiosa Descriptio Quam ex Magna Universale Gerardi Mercatoris... Rumold Mercator, 1587 (1595).
Excellent. Map proper, without text or margins, 11.5 x 21.5 in / 29 x 52.5 cm
A fine example of the rare first atlas issue from the original Mercator Atlas of the famed world map of Mercator on a double-hemispherical projection. Only two issues were actually published by the Mercator family, this 1595 issue and that of 1602; all subsequent issues were published by the Hondius firm.
Gerhard Mercator (1512-1594) is known to every modern school child as the creator of the map projection which now bears his name. Clearly a maverick, his geography was original, based on his own interpretation of data (albiet from sometimes dated sources) rather than being derivations of existing maps. He was a student of philosophy, was overwhelmingly interested in the origin and nature of the universe, and did not confine his ideas on the matter to established precepts.