TITLE: Universalis Cosmographia Secundum Ptholomei Traditionem
e Et Americi Vespucci Aliorum Lustrationes
AUTHOR: Martin Waldseemüller [Hylacomylus]
DESCRIPTION: This highly significant map of the world eluded examination
by modern scholars for nearly four hundred years until its re-discovery
in 1901 by the Jesuit historian, Joseph Fisher, in the library of Prince
von Waldburg zu Wolfegg-Waldsee at the Castle of Wolfegg, Württemberg
Germany. Fisher found the only known remaining copy of this map securely
bound up in an old book bearing the bookplate of the 16th century German
mathematician and geographer, Johannes Schöner. This volume contained
twelve sheets, each 21 inches by 30 inches, which when laid together disclosed
a large map of the world 4 feet 6 inches by 8 feet, which was designated
by one of its own inscriptions a carta marina, dated on its own face 1516,
and bore the name of Martin Waldseemüller as author.
There were twelve other sheets of the same size in the book, making another
world map but containing no author's name or date. It is this map which
is here reproduced and examined.
It had long been suspected that Martin Waldseemüller, a professor of
cosmography at the school in St. Die, located in the Vosges Mountains of
France, had made a map of the world in the year 1507. Henry Harrisse had
made this conjecture in his Discovery of North America, which he
published when the world was celebrating the four hundredth anniversary
of the discovery of America. That Fisher in these anonymous, undated sheets,
had found such a map appears from three leading considerations: (1) from
the references to such a map by Waldseemüller himself on his map of
1516; (2) from the agreement of the anonymous undated map with an existing
map by Glareanus of about the year 1510, on which Glareanus asserts that
in the making of his map he had followed Waldseemüller, and (3) from
the anonymous, undated map's conformity to certain statements by Waldseemüller
in his well known Cosmographia Introductio of 1507, which is, in
fact, an explanatory text for the map in question.
The passage in the Cosmographia Introductio, which bears most strongly
on the problem of the identification of the map, is as follows:
The purpose of this little book is to write a description of the world map,
which we have designed both as a globe and as a projection [tam in solido
quam plano]. The globe I have designed on a small scale, the map on
a larger. As farmers usually mark off and divide their farms by boundary
lines, so it has been our endeavor to mark the chief countries of the world
by the emblems of their rulers. And (to begin with our own continent) in
the middle of Europe we have placed the eagles of the Roman Empire (which
rule the Kings of Europe) and with the key (which is the symbol of the Holy
Father), we have enclosed almost the whole of Europe, which acknowledges
the Roman Church. The greater part of Africa and a part of Asia we have
distinguished by crescents, which are the emblems of the Sultan of Babylonia,
the Lord of all Egypt, and of a part of Asia. The part of Asia called Asia
Minor we have surrounded with a saffron-colored cross joined to a branding
iron, which is the symbol of the Sultans of the Turks, who rules Scythia
this side of the Imaus, the highest mountains of Asia and Sarmatian Scythia.
Asiatic Scythia we have marked by anchors, which are the emblems of the
great Tartar Khan. A red cross symbolizes Prester John (who rules both eastern
and southern India and who resides in Biberith); and finally on the fourth
division of the earth, discovered by the kings of Castile and Portugal,
we have placed the emblems of those sovereigns. And what is to be borne
in mind, we have marked with crosses shallow places in the sea where shipwreck
may be feared. Herewith we close.
Martin Waldseemüller' s Universalis Cosmographia secundum Ptholomei
Traditionem et Americi Vespucci aliorum Lustrationes [A Map of the World
According to the Tradition of Ptolemy and the Voyages of Amerigo Vespucci]
was designed on a single cordiform projection and engraved on twelve wooden
blocks (21 X 30 inches @; 54 X 96 inches overall) at Strassburg and printed
at St. Die in a an original issue of about 1,000 copies. While certainly
not the only large world map produced during this dynamic era of exploration,
the Universalis Cosmographia was one of the first large engraved and printed
maps to depict the recent Spanish and Portuguese discoveries of the Mundus
Novus (a thousand copies represented a large edition for this time, immediately
preceding post-Columbian world maps, such as Juan de la Cosa's, Cantino's
and Caveri's (Slides #308 thru 311 - were all manuscript maps).
This map is a prototype of a (truncated) cordiform or heart-shaped projection.
Cordiform projections are essentially equivalent (equal area), show true
distance from a point (i.e., the North Pole), and have in the most useful,
central part of the projection a greater longitudinal than latitudinal extent.
In plate IXof the map, numbering the plates from left to right, the top
row first, Waldseemüller re-asserts that he is delineating especially
the lands discovered by Vespucci. In translation, this inscription in the
lower left-hand corner of the map says:
A general delineation of the various lands and islands, including some of
which the ancients make no mention, discovered lately between 1497 and 1504
in four voyages over the seas, two by Fernando of Castile, and two by Manuel
of Portugal, most serene monarchs, with Amerigo Vespucci as one of the navigators
and officers of the fleet; and especially a delineation of many places hitherto
unknown. All this we have carefully drawn on the map, to furnish true and
precise geographical knowledge.
Vespucci's contribution was, in fact, a fairly considerable one. A Florentine
cosmographer, he sailed in 1497 with a commission appointed by Ferdinand
and Isabella to investigate reports that Columbus' administration of Hispaniola
was inept. Much of what Vespucci claimed to have seen on this and other
voyages was later called into question by both his contemporaries and, later,
Vespucci claimed that on his first voyage he made discoveries along the
coasts of Honduras and the Gulf of Mexico. He also credited himself with
three other voyages by 1503, when he made his last, an investigation of
the coasts of Venezuela and Brazil for Portugal. He wrote a letter describing
his third voyage which was circulated throughout Europe as a tract called
The New World, and later was included by Waldseemüller in his Cosmographia
Introductio (the Solderini letter, see illustration on the next page). In
that letter, Vespucci proposed that the new lands ought to be called a "New
World , because none of those countries were known to our ancestors . .
. I have found a continent in that southern part more populous and more
full of animals than our Europe or Asia or Africa."
By the time that Waldseemüller published his Introductio, geographers
had begun to accept that this really was a New World, and the convention
of showing the new and old worlds in two hemispheres was established with
the two inset maps placed on top of Waldseemüller's world map of 1507
(top center). Taken together, these inset hemispheres form the most comprehensive
and most nearly correct representation of the world displayed on any map
known to have been constructed up to the year of 1507. To avoid confusion
hereafter the main portion of the map will be referred to as the "world
map", designating the two small representations of the eastern and
western hemispheres, placed above the world map, as the "insets".
In the western hemisphere inset the two Americas are shown as a continuous
landmass firmly joined together by an isthmus, unlike the representation
in the world map where the two continents are inexplicably separated by
a strait. To the east of the continent in the inset is the Atlantic, to
the west is another great sea with the island Zipangri [Japan, Marco
Polo's Zipangu ] nearly in the middle of it but closer to the American
continent than to the Asian. Westward from that island is to be recognized
the eastern coast of Asia, showing Catay, or Cathay, and other
identifiable names. There was no question whatever in the mapmaker's mind,
therefore, as to the separate identities of the American and Asian continents.
As can be seen on the preceding illustrations, on each side of the insets,
Waldseemüller has prominently placed stylized portraits of Claudius
Ptolemy and Amerigo Vespucci. Thus Waldseemüller has tried to appeal
to both the traditionalists and to the keen interests of Europeans in the
new discoveries. This is also clearly evident in his inscription on Plate
In describing the general appearance of the world, it has seemed best to
put down the discoveries of the ancients, and to add what has since been
discovered by the moderns, for instance, the land of Cathay, so that those
who are interested in such matters and wish to find out various things,
may gain their wishes and be grateful to us for our labor, when they see
nearly everything that has been discovered here and there, or recently explored,
carefully and clearly brought together, so as to be seen at a glance.
This map's greatest claim to immortality, however, is contained in the simple
word of seven letters, America , the earliest known use of that name to
describe the newly found fourth part of the world, placed on the southern
continent (present-day South America) of the world map only by Waldseemüller.
Besides this world map, Waldseemüller also introduced the name America
in two other media, in the previously mentioned Cosmographia Introductio
and on his globe (thought by some scholars to be the so-called Hausslab-Linchoten
#312C), both also produced in the year 1507).
More than four years had elapsed since Amerigo Vespucci announced what he
claimed to be the discovery of an entirely new continent, and as yet that
new continent had no satisfactory name. It needed one that would be in keeping
with the names of the other continents.
Natives of Espanola had called the great land to the south of their island
Bohio. The Portuguese used names that Cabral had given: Vera Cruz and Terra
de Santa Cruz; but a name of Portuguese origin was acceptable only to themselves,
not at all to the Spanish, who rightfully claimed more than half the continent,
and who had touched its shores two years before Cabral and had made extensive
explorations of it the year before Cabral. The term used by some of the
map-makers, Land of Brasil, was confusing, for Brasil was the name
of an imaginary island located somewhere in the Atlantic, according to popular
belief, when there had been no thought of a continent. Terra dei Pappagalli
[Land of Parrots] was a name only locally applicable to a part of the
continent; Parias was the native name for a limited region near Trinidad;
and India Nova [New India] was inaccurate. Mundus Novus [New
World] and Terra Incognita [Unknown Land] were less real names than
descriptions, though for many years these last two terms were quite prevalent
on maps showing new discoveries. But now the fact that there was a new continent
beyond the western ocean had become nearly common knowledge throughout Europe,
and there was everywhere a subconscious demand for an adequate name, a universally
In the first years of the new century, a group of scholars decided to produce
a revised edition of the Cosmography of Ptolemy (Slide
#119) to meet the urgent need for new maps, according to the new discoveries.
It happened that in the Vosges Mountains in the little town of Saint-Die,
there was a college under the patronage of the studious Duke Renaud (Rene)
II of Vaudemon, of Lorraine, the titular "King of Jerusalem and Sicily",
who was there resident. Walter Lud, Secretary to the Duke, and a wealthy
man, had established a printing press at St. Die in 1500. The duke and several
professors in the college used this press in their geographical project.
Martin Waldseemüller, a native of Freiburg in the Breisgau and appointed
Professor of Geography at St. Die in about 1505, made several important
contributions to this project. It was at St. Die that he prepared the treatise
Cosmographia Introductio, which presented this description of itself:
An Introduction to Cosmography, together with some principles of Geometry
necessary to the purpose. Also four voyages of Americus Vespucius. A description
of of universal Cosmography, both stereometrical and planometrical, together
with what was unknown to Ptolemy and has been recently discovered. This
small treatise was brought out as a pamphlet on April 25, 1507.
Martin Waldseemüller, whose family name actually seems to have been
Waltzemüller, had a fondness for making up names, as we know from his
signing himself Hylacomylus, a hybrid composite of the Greek word
meaning "wood", equivalent to Wald; the Latin lacus, meaning "lake"
or "See"; and the Greek word "mill". In a Latin preface
to Cosmographia lntroductio Waldseemüller indulged his name-coining
Toward the South Pole are situated the southern part of Africa, recently
discovered, and the islands of Zanzibar, Java Minor, and Seula. These regions
[Europe, Asia, Africa] have been more extensively explored, and another
or fourth part has been seen by the attached charts; in virtue of which
I believe it very just that it should be named Amerige ["ge" in
Greek meaning "land of"], after its discoverer, Americus, a man
of sagacious mind; or let it be named America, since both Europa and Asia
bear names of feminine form.
Asia was a name derived from Asu, which meant "rising sun"
or "land of light"; while Europa was a name that came from
ereb or irib, which meant "setting sun" or "land of darkness".
Africa came from a local Carthaginian place name. The name America was
a variant of the German Amalrich, derived from amal. In Greek it
was Aimulos, in Latin Aemelius. In all its forms the underlying meaning
was that of work; as for example, the word for work in Hebrew is amal,
and in old Norse aml, the consonant sounds of which were retained
in the verb moil. Amalrich, which literally meant "work
ruler", or "designator of tasks", might be freely translated
as "master workman". A Frenchman said that Emeric meant
"rich through work".
The name appeared in Halmal, a semi-divine mythical forefather or ancestor
of the Amelungen, or royal tribe of the Ostrogoths, which was called
Ömlunger. German forms of the name were Amalrich, Almerich, Emmerich;
the Spanish form was Almerigo; the French, Amalrie or Amaury;
in England it was Almerick, or Merica in old families in Yorkshire. It appeared
in feminine forms in Amelia, Emilia, Emily; its masculine forms were
Amery, Aymar, Emeric, Emerique, Emery or Emmery. But as Charlotte
Mary Yonge wrote in her History of Christian Names, it was
. . . the Italian form, Amerigo, which was destined to the most noted
use . . . which should hold fast that most fortuitous title, whence thousands
of miles, and millions of men, bear the appellation of the forgotten forefather
of a tribe of Goths - Amalrich, the work ruler; a curiously appropriate
title for the new world of labor and progress, on the other side of the
Returning to the map, it is curious to note that while the name America
appeared on the new continent (South America) of the new hemisphere on the
world map, Waldseemüller did not choose to use it on the small inset
map of the western hemisphere, where South America is labelled Terra
Incognita (see illustration). As will be seen, Waldseemüller's
dedication to the name America was hardly unwavering, for in addition to
this aforementioned apparent contradiction, his latter maps of 1513 and
1516 appeared without his prophetic name of America (Slide #321).
By selecting the name America for a major portion of the new discoveries,
Waldseemüller was not unaware of the contributions of Columbus and
intended no denial of the credit properly due him. On Plate V (Caribbean
area) of his map, Waldseemüller wrote: These islands were discovered
by Columbus, an admiral of Genoa, at the command of the King of Spain. And
at the mouth of the Orinoco River is the following: All this is sweet water,
a statement based upon the well known story of Columbus' discovery of the
fresh water of the Orinoco River (there is the same reference found on the
Bartholomew Columbus map (Slide
#307) which has Mar de aqua dolce along the northeastern shores of South
Plate I, in the upper left-hand corner (see illustration), contains an inscription
that explains Waldseemüller's ideas as to the location of the lands
discovered by Vespucci and Columbus.
Many have regarded as an invention the words of a famous poet [Virgil] that
"beyond the stars lies a land, beyond the path of the year and the
sun, where Atlas, who supports the heavens, revolves on his shoulders the
axis of the world, set with gleaming stars", but now finally it proves
clearly to be true. For there is a land, discovered by Columbus, a captain
of the King of Castile, and by Americus Vespucius, both men of very great
ability, which, though in great part lies beneath "the path of the
year and of the sun" and between the tropics, nevertheless extends
about 19 degrees beyond the Tropic of Capricorn toward the Antarctic Pole,
"beyond the path of the year and the sun". Here a greater amount
of gold has been found than of any other metal.
Instead of 19 degrees he should have written 29 degrees which, when added
to the 23 degrees of the tropic, would have made the "fifty-two degrees"
given in the "third" voyage as Amerigo Vespucci's farthest south.
Since Columbus never explored as far south as the equator, the words "it
proves clearly to be true" are clothed with meaning only in the light
of Amerigo's voyages into the southern hemisphere, not at all in the light
of the "first" of the "four voyages", from which the
dispute ultimately arose as to which could claim priority upon the shore
of the new continent, Columbus or Amerigo Vespucci; for that "first"
voyage, like all the voyages of Columbus, was entirely north of the equator.
In other words, on his 1507 map, Waldseemüller unmistakably showed
that in his own mind he ascribed proof of the existence of the new continent
to the Portuguese voyage of Amerigo (the "third" of the "four
voyages"), and that Columbus never detoured from his conviction that
he had actually reached the shores of Asia (accepting the longitudinally
shortened world of Ptolemy, et al), and that it was the acceptance of Amerigo's
proof of its existence more so than Amerigo's supposed priority which caused
him to name the new continent America.
The remarkable geographical features of the Waldseemüller map are,
however, more important than the giving of a name to one of them. In addition
to the previously mentioned accuracy and 'novelty' of the hemispheric insets,
and the picturing of the new southern continent, with its surprisingly correct
general contour, the inset map presents a portion of the northern continent
as well, and the two are correctly joined together by a narrow isthmus.
However, as can be seen on Plate I of the world map, the two continents
are inexplicably separated by a hypothetical strait, connecting the two
great oceans. Both the inset and the world map illustrate another important
feature, the representation of a great ocean even broader than the Atlantic,
between the New World and Asia. The decision to display a large expanse
of ocean west of the New World discoveries was, of course, pure conjecture
on the part of Waldseemüller since, in 1507, the discoveries of Balboa
and Magellan were still a few years off in the future.
These close approximations to geographical actualities were natural corollaries
of Amerigo's great 'discovery' of a "fourth part of the world".
One is tempted to loose sight of this revolutionary advance over the previously
dominating world conception of Ptolemy in focusing all the attention to
the single feature that has made Waldseemüller's map so famous, the
first appearance thereon of the name America.
Waldseemüller places a land to the west of Isabella Insula [Cuba],
as do tmany of he other map-makers of his time, La Cosa, Cantino, Ruysch
and Caveri (Slides
This area may represent the coast of China copied from Marco Polo, and placed
here in the belief that the new discoveries were in and near Asia. Ruysch
distinctly records his belief on his map (Slide
#313) that the contemporary explorers had reached China, and the Columbus
map and the letter of Columbus explanatory of his fourth voyage record the
same view (Slides #305, #306). However, this view is not supported on the
Waldseemüller map either by the place-names found in the area of the
new discoveries, or by the overall visual image presented by the placement
of the new discoveries as totally separated by some distance from Asia.
On the other hand, navigators unknown to modern historians, may have sailed
along the coast of Florida at this time. In this respect, Waldseemüller
may have been led by the maps of La Cosa, Canerio, and Cantino to believe
that this was at least a possibility, for he depicts a small portion of
the northern mainland extending from the narrow strait in Central America
to just north of Terra Ulteri' Incognita [Florida]. Here the northern
coast terminates abruptly with open sea beyond approximately 50 degrees,
with Newfoundland being shown as an island far to the east. This interpretation
is similar to both Cantino and Canerio and helped keep alive the possibility
of a northern access to the as yet unnamed Pacific and, of course, the riches
of far Cathay.
To the south, the long attenuated form given to both Terra Ulteri' Incognita
and to America, the west coasts of which are, as it were, rolled
back to indicate Waldseemüller's lack of knowledge of these areas.
In extending the South American coast to 50 degrees South (high-lighted
by the implantation of a Portuguese flag), Waldseemüller avoids committing
himself as to the possibility of a passage by sea around this new continent
by continuing its land to the edge of, and actually into, the map frame
(compare this abrupt treatment with his depiction of Africa, where he is
willing to go outside of the preset form of his map frame in order to accommodate
the full extension of the continent and thus substantiate the Portuguese
proof of a passage to the Far East).
Joseph Fisher and F. von Wieser showed conclusively in their memoir on the
unique copy of this map that the primary source employed by Waldseemüller
for the general outline of the new discoveries, and, for some place-names
and legends, was the world map of 1502 by the Genoese chartmaker Nicolo
de Caveri [or Canerio], and not merely a copy of this but the actual surviving
chart (Slide #310).
One difference being that the Waldseemüller map is basically a 'land
map' and the interiors are somewhat filled-in, whereas the Caveri chart
is basically a portolano, or nautical chart, with little or no interior
Leaving the New World discoveries, one cannot help but notice the striking
resemblance between Waldseemüller's Old World outline and that presented
by Henricus Martellus Germanus in his map of 1490 (Slide
As can be seen on the accompanying comparison illustration, except for the
southern half of Africa, in both projection and general geographical contours
the Old World of Waldseemüller's 1507 map seems to have been virtually
copied from Martellus. Curiously enough, though, while accepting the Portuguese
delineation of the New World and South Africa, Waldseemüller reverts
to the Ptolemaic conception of North Africa and Asia as refined and expressed
by Martellus, rejecting the more accurate rendering of contemporaries such
as Canerio. This Ptolemaic basis results in giving the map an extremely
exaggerated representation of the eastern extension of Asia; in fact, the
landmass of the Old World, alone, extends through some 230 degrees of longitude.
This lack of any substantive modification, of the Far East especially, is
understandable in light of the sparsity of verifiable reports from this
region and the focus of popular attention on both Africa and the New World.
In Africa, Waldseemüller gives full expression to the recent Portuguese
exploration by including the rounding of Caput de bona Speransa [Cape of
Good Hope], by Bartholomew Diaz and Vasco da Gama, and on to Calicut; the
depiction of the Arab settlements of Melinde, Monbatha, Quiloe and Monsanbiqui;
the Portuguese Padros, T. del Natal and Cortada; and the rivers R. di Infante,
S. Thomas, de Largo (Espiritu Santu) and S. Vincente - all traced by a series
of Portuguese flags. Not many interior details are shown to speak of, but
a large group of natives is shown at the Cape, and above them, a large vignette
of an elephant. While the shape his Africa resembles reality more so than
Martellus', Waldseemuller extends the continent to beyond its actual 34
degrees South in a similarly misguided manner as Martellus with Waldseemüller's
Africa reaching an inexplicable 50 degrees plus.
The Indian Ocean area is very representative of the Ptolemaic character,
albeit re-interpreted by Waldseemuller, showing a typically enlarged Taprobana
Insula (the location of which represents a juxtaposition of this island
with Seylam as found on Fra Mauro's map, Slide
#249), a reduced Indian subcontinent, an exaggerated Madagascar and
Zanzibar and a string of numerous islands (possibly representing confusion
in the reports of the Maldive Islands and the Malay Archipelago) that seem
to form a series of stepping stones leading to a mysteriously elongated
southeast Asian peninsula labeled India, located south and east of the
Aureus Chersoneus [Malay Peninsula] - this extension of Indochina to
25 degrees South, unlike the Martellus map which extends to 33 degrees,
is a remnant of the Ptolemaic land-link between Africa and Asia that had
formerly enclosed the Indian Ocean (Slide #119).
Seylam [Sri Lanka/Ceylon], lava Major and Minor [Sumatra/Java/Borneo
?] are three prominent islands placed to the east and south of this long
peninsula; while further to the north can be found the island of Zipangu
Plate XII, lower right-hand corner, summarizes Waldseemüller's philosophical
approach to his map:
Although many of the ancients were interested in marking out the circle
of the land, things remained unknown to them in no slight degree; for instance,
in the west, America, named after its discoverer, which is to be reckoned
a fourth part of the world. Another is, to the south, a part of Africa,
which begins about seven degrees this side of Capricornus and stretches
in a broad expanse to the south, beyond the torrid zone and the Tropic of
Egocerus (Capricornus). A third instance, in the east, is the land of Cathay,
and all of southern India beyond 180 degrees of longitude. All these we
have added to the earlier known places, so that those who are fond of things
of this sort may gaze upon all that is known to us of the present day, and
may approve of out painstaking labors. This one request we have to make,
that those who are inexperienced and unacquainted with cosmography shall
not condemn all this before they have learned that it will surely be clearer
to them later on, when they have come to understand it.
In addition to Caveri, Martellus and Ptolemy, other sources synthesized
by Waldseemüller include the narratives of Marco Polo, whose data concerning
the geography of eastern China and the adjacent islands, though already
known to the world in the map of Fra Mauro, the Catalan Atlas (Slide
#235) and in globes such as those of Behaim (Slide
#258), are now for the first time embodied in a popular printed sheet
map; and the Northmen, whose explorations in Mare Glaciale and in the neighborhood
of Greenland were known from the maps of Claudius Clavus and those of Donnus
Thus, derived chiefly from Caveri's map, itself based in many particulars
upon the Cantino world map of 1502 (Slide
#309), the Waldseemüller production of 1507 transmitted the features
of both to an impressive list of succeeding maps, globes and globe gores
reaching to 1520 and well beyond. It was this succession of maps which Harrisse
labeled the Lusitano-Germanic group. The transmission of the Cantino-Caveri
concept through the members of this notable group created one of the mainstreams
of interest in the history of cartography.
Of the same year as the map itself, and displaying its features, was the
previously alluded to printed globe issued by Waldseemüller, known
today only by two sets of globe gores on uncut sheets. Waldseemüller's
world map and insets were copied in manuscript at least twice by Henricus
Glareanus. This ingenious geographer not only thus preserved the geographical
concepts of Waldseemüller but carried the representation of hemispheres
a step further by the experimental construction in 1510 of the first known
maps of the northern and southern hemispheres on a circumpolar projection.
In 1512 appeared, far away in Cracow, Poland, in the Introductio in Ptholomei
Cosmographia of Johannes de Stobnicza, the inset hemispheres of the
1507 map, copied and reprinted by the Polish scholar without reference to
their source (Slide
#316). In 1515 appeared the printed globe of Johann Schöner and
a set of globe gores, sometimes called the Nordenskiöld Gores, printed
about 1518. The Paris Globe of 1515, sometimes referred to as the Green
Globe, and the Schöner painted globe of 1520 (Slide
#323) may also be traced directly to the Waldseemüller globe gores
of 1507. And finally, a much reduced engraved map by Peter Apian, also based
on the Waldseemüller world map of 1507, was published in 1520. Versions
of the latter were edited by Gemma Frisius and Sebastian Munster, so that
the Waldseemüller type, or Lusitano-Germanic group, held the field
until the advent of Mercator, Ortelius, and the Dutch school of the mid-century.
Waldseemüller, himself, continued his cartographic production beginning
with a revised edition of Ptolemy's Geographia (eventually published by
others), which included a Supplement composed of 20 maps claimed by some
scholars to be 'the first modern atlas of the world'. Two maps in this Supplement
show the New World discoveries, Tabula Terre Nove and Orbis Typus
Universalis. It is important to note here that these two maps actually
represent significant retrogression in cartographic expression by the German
cartographer. The substantive advancement in geographical concepts found
in the 1507 map, i.e., the separation of the new discoveries from Asia,
the graphic confirmation of a new hemisphere, the suggestion of the Pacific
Ocean, and the fortuitous accuracy of South America, to say nothing of his
proposal of a new name befitting the newly discovered fourth part; are all
absent from these two maps designed by Waldseemüller just six years
later, in 1513. As can be seen, Terra Incognita replaces America
and it is placed up against a frame that avoids any speculation as to the
size or shape of the new continent(s). Gone, however, is that mysterious
strait that had separated North and South America on the 1507 map. Over
to the left, on Tabula Terra Nove, apparently referring to the Pearl
Coast and perhaps to Honduras, we read the surprising inscription: Hec
terra cum adiacentib insulis inuenta est per Columbu ianuensem ex mandato
Regis Castellae [This land with the adjacent islands was discovered
by Columbus of Genoa by order of the King of Castile]. A statement that
is in obvious conflict with the thrust of both the graphic productions of
1507 (map and globe) and the text of Introductio Cosmographiæ
referred to earlier - both prepared more or less as a testimony to Amerigo
But worse inconsistency was to come. In his great and very important world
map of 1516, Waldseemüller showed the landmass abutting upon the western
border of the map, as in the two above mentioned maps, but here gives it
the name Terra de Cuba Asie Partis. As a matter of fact, he misinterpreted/misrepresented
the Cantino concept by the act of placing the Terra de Cuba Asie Partis
legend on a landmass which Cantino had not named but which he thought of,
in all probability, as part of a new continent entirely separated from Asia.
The regression of Waldseemüller to the Columbian conception of Cuba
as a part of the continent of Asia was without question confusing to those
who saw the map of 1516 with its specific legend. But it seems that in this
particular the map had little influence upon its time. The world picture
in the maps and globe of 1507 - the representation, that is, of an American
landmass widely separated from the Asian coast with Japan lying between
the two - had become the accepted canon in geographic theory and cartographic
expression. It is true that certain of the notable globes of the same period
as the map of 1516, that is, the Paris Globe of 1515, the Nordenskiöld
gores of 1518, and the Schöner painted globe of 1520, in deference
perhaps to Waldseemüller apply the name Cuba to the landmass, but they
discard entirely his designation Asie Partis, following instead his bold
treatment of the distribution of continents found in the great map of 1507,
showing the Americas as separate continents lying between Europe and Asia.
One can hardly overemphasize the significance in cartographic history, therefore,
of the printed Waldseemüller productions of 1507 - world map, insets,
and globe gores. The representation in these of the American continents
separated from Asia by a broad ocean in the midst of which lay the island
of Japan was a splendid synthesis based upon such known particulars as the
narrative of Marco Polo, the voyages of the Portuguese to North America
by way of the Atlantic and to India by way of the Cape of Good Hope, the
discoveries of South America by Vespucci and Cabral, the Spanish discoveries
in the West Indies and the Caribbean, and above all, perhaps, the notable
manuscript maps of La Cosa, Cantino, and Canerio. The new picture compiled
from these varied elements and presented to the literate world in printed
form became a factor of the highest importance in developing a new concept
of the earth and its divisions, rendering obsolete the Ptolemaic geography
which had been accepted and revered since the second century of the Christian
era. From it evolved, indeed, today's concept of the geographical divisions
of the continents and islands, and of the great waters which form our earth.
LOCATION: Wolfegg Castle, Würtemberg, Germany
SIZE: 53 x 94 inches (132 x 236 cm), woodcut on paper, 12 sheets
designed to be joined.
*Bagrow, L., History of Cartography, pp. 108-110; 126-127.
*Bricker, C. , Landmarks of Mapmaking, pp. 57, 159-160, 197.
Brown, L.A., The Story of Maps, pp. 156-157.
*Crone, G.R., Maps and their Makers, pp. 92-94.
*Cumming, W.P., The Southeast in Early Maps, p.93.
*Cumming, W.P., The Discovery of North America, pp. 66-67.
*Fisher, J. & F.R. von Wieser, The Oldest Map with the Name America
of the year 1507 and the Carta Marina of the year 1516 by Martin Waldseemüller
Fiske, J., The Discovery of America, pp. 358-413.
*Fite, E.D. & A. Freeman, A Book of Old Maps Delineating American History
. . . p. 24, #8.
Harrisse, H., The Discovery of North America, p. 443.
*Nebenzahl, K., Atlas of Columbus, pp. 52-55, Plate 16.
Pohl, F.J., Amerigo Vespucci, Pilot Major, pp. 168-174.
*Shirley, R.W., The Mapping of the World, pp. 28-31, #26, Plate 31.
*Wroth, L.C., The Voyages of Giovanni da Verrazano, 1524-28, pp. 45-52.