This engraving is from Sebastian Münster & Claudius Ptolemy’s Geographiae Claudii Ptolemaei Alexandrini, Philosophi ac Mathematici praestantissimi, Libri VIII… his accesserunt… tabulae novae… per Sebastianum Munsterum. The work was published in 1552 in Basel by Henricus Petri. This map is a fine example from the fourth and last edition of Munster’s Ptolemy.
The work originally included 27 Ptolemaic maps (World, 10 Europe, 4 Africa, 12 Asia) and 27 new maps drawn by Sebastian Münster and David Kandel (World, 22 Europe, 2 Asia, 1 Africa and 1 America). On the verso of each map is a descriptive text surrounded by an ornate woodcut border, often attributed to Holbein. On verso of the map of America Novae Insulae, there is the printer’s device of H. Petri with the publishing date M.D.LII.
The atlas held great signficance for it’s map of the New World, one of the most important ones in the history of American Cartography. The atlas also featured the earliest representation of Japan on a map, pre-European contact. It also named the Pacific Ocean for the first time, Mare Pacificam. Philip D. Burden noted about Münster’s first map of America: “(This map) sealed the fate of America as the name for the New World…”
This work is considered a later published ediiton of Ptolemy (Ptolemaeus)s Geographia. The work was considered one of the most influential cartographic accounts of the ancient world and served as inspiration for all Renaissance mapmakers. He compiled what was known of the world’s geography in the Roman Empire during his time (circa 90-168 AD). Ptolemy was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet. The earliest known manuscripts of Geographia date to 1300 and was first printed in 1477.
Sebastian Munster (1489-1552) was a German cartographer, cosmographer, and a Hebrew scholar. He also became a Franciscan monk at an early age. Munster’s Cosmographia was the first work of scientific based knowledge in the German language. He became one of the most influential geographers of the 16th century.