Stock number: 18939Zoom Image
First 1538 edition
15.7 x 23.3 cms
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First edition of this important work. A pristine offprint of the woodblock. Excellent collector's condition.
It is Sebastian Münster's earliest map of Africa, predating his map of the continent of Africa of 1540.
The geography is mostly Ptolemaic, with the Niger flowing west and the sources of the Nile located in the mountains of the moon. It uses Ptolemy's trapezoid projection.
The work was published in 1538 by Heinrich Petri, foremost printing-house in Basle. The text was edited and corrected by Sebastian Münster, professor in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. He also produced the maps.
When teaching at the University of Heidelberg, Münster had also worked as press-corrector for Heinrich's father Adam Petri. In 1529 Münster accepted a position at the University of Basle. In 1529, soon after his move to Basel, he left the Franciscan Order and adhered to Lutheranism; and in the following year he married Adam Petri's widow, thus gaining for himself a measure of financial security and the services of the substantial printing-house of his stepson Heinrich Petri, who was to produce most of his later works.
A second edition of the work would appear in 1543, with different signatures for the maps.
"GAIUS JULIUS SOLINUS, Latin grammarian and compiler, probably flourished during the first half of the 3rd century A.D. He was the author of Collectanea rerum memorabilium, a description of curiosities in a chorographical framework. Adventus, to whom it is dedicated, is identified with Oclatinius Adventus, consul A.D. 218. It contains a short description of the ancient world, with remarks on historical, social, religious and natural history questions. The greater part is taken from Pliny's Natural History and the geography of Pomponius Mela. According to Mommsen, Solinus also used a chronicle (possibly by Cornelius Bocchus) and a Chorographia pliniana, an epitome of Pliny's work with additions made about the time of Hadrian. Schanz, however, suggests the Roma and Pratum of Suetonius. The Collectanea was revised in the 6th century under the title of Polyhistor (subsequently taken for the author's name). It was popular in the middle ages, hexameter abridgments being current under the names of Theodericus and Petrus Diaconus.
The commentary by Saumaise in his Plinianae exercitationes (1689) is indispensable; best edition by Mommsen (1895), with valuable introduction on the MSS., the authorities used by Solinus, and subsequent compilers. See also Teuffel, Hist. of Roman Literature (Eng. trans., 1900), 389; and Schanz, Geschichte der romischen Litteratur (1904), iv. 1. There is an old English translation by A. Golding (1587)."
"Caius Julius Solinus was a Roman who lived in the third or fourth century AD, possibly worked as a grammarian, and is most widely recognized for his work, the Polyhistor. Possibly written sometime in the middle of the third century, the Polyhistor, alternatively known as the Collectanea rerum memorabilium and De situ orbis, relied heavily on Pliny's Natural History as well as Pomponius Mela's De situ orbis. The work touches on the natural history and geography of the regions known to the Roman Empire, as well as religious and social matters. Solinus's Polyhistor remained popular through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, particularly for its geographical content. The Polyhistor was first translated into English in 1587 by Arthur Golding."
Following the various editions of Waldseemüller's maps, the names of three cartographers dominate the sixteenth century: Mercator, Ortelius and Münster, and of these three Münster probably had the widest influence in spreading geographical knowledge throughout Europe in the middle years of the century.
His Cosmographia, issued in 1544, contained not only the latest maps and views of many well-known cities, but included an encyclopaedic amount of detail about the known - and unknown - world and undoubtedly must have been one of the most widely read books of its time, going through nearly forty editions in six languages.
An eminent German mathematician and linguist, Münster became Professor of Hebrew at Heidelberg and later at Basle, where he settled in 1529. In 1528, following his first mapping of Germany, he appealed to German scholars to send him "descriptions, so that all Germany with its villages, towns, trades, etc. may be seen as in a mirror", even going so far as to give instructions on how they should "map" their own localities. The response was far greater than expected and such information was sent by foreigners as well as Germans so that, eventually, he was able to include many up-to-date, if not very accurate, maps in his atlases.
He was the first to provide a separate map of each of the four known Continents and the first separately printed map of England. His maps, printed from woodblocks, are now greatly valued by collectors. His two major works, the Geographia and the Cosmographia were published in Basle by his step-son, Henri Petri, who continued to issue many editions after Münster's death of the plague in 1552.
(Moreland & Bannister).
The remaining modern maps, [...], are all drawn on a plane projection, undergraduated, without scales, and variously oriented with north, south, east or west at the top, "without the excuse of topographical necessity", as Nordenskjöld severely remarks. In spite of these and other cartographic defects, they constitute an important corpus of geographical knowledge and interpretation; Münster was the first atlas-maker to furnish separate maps of the four continents then known; and for England, Scandinavia and southern Germany, eastern Europe and America he brought recent and significant representations into general currency.
The Cosmographia of Sebastian Münster must rank as the greatest geographical compendium of the period - an immensely detailed work illustrated with woodcut portraits, scenes, town plans and panoramas, and maps. Born in 1488, Münster was a Fransiscan who became Professor of Hebrew at Heidelberg and later at Basle, where he taught Hebrew and, amongst other works, published the first German translation of the Bible from Hebrew. In 1540 his edition of Ptolemy's Geographia was published, followed in 1544 by the Cosmographia Universalis. Together these ran to over 35 editions published mostly in Basle in Latin, German, French and Italian versions. Münster's particular cartographic importance lies in the number of 'new' maps he introduced and, above all, in the innovative, separate mapping of each of the four continents. The map of the Americas is not only the first map to show the Western Hemisphere separately, but is also the first to show North and South America joined together.
Sebastian Münster was raised as a Franciscan monk, converted to Lutheranism, taught Hebrew at Heidelberg and Basle, and was proficient in Greek and some Asian tongues. He died of the plague in 1552. First published in 1540, his atlas was the first to contain separate maps of each of the four continents.
In 1540 Sebastian Münster, who was to become one of the most influential cartographers in the sixteenth century, published his edition of Ptolemy's Geographia with a further section of modern, more up-to-date maps. He included for the first time a set of continental maps, the America was the earliest of any note. Münster studied Hebrew at Heidelberg and was a scholar of geography, writing amongst other works the Polyhistor.
He was one of the first to create space in the woodblock for the insertion of place-names in metal type. The map's inclusion in Münster's Cosmography, first published in 1544, sealed the fate of "America" as the name for the New World. The book proved to be very popular, there being nearly forty editions during the following 100 years.