Waldseemüller map

Waldseemüller map

The Waldseemüller map, "Universalis Cosmographia", is a wall map of the world drawn by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller originally published in April 1507. It was one of the first maps to chart latitude and longitude precisely, following the example of Ptolemy, and was the first map to use the name "America". Waldseemüller also created globe gores, printed maps designed to be cut out and pasted onto spheres to form globes of the Earth.

At the time this wall map was drawn, Waldseemüller was working as part of the group of scholars of the Vosgean Gymnasium at Saint-Dié-des-Vosges in Lorraine, which in that time belonged to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The maps were accompanied by the book "Cosmographiae Introductio" produced by the Vosgean Gymnasium.

Wall map

The full title of the map is "Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque lustrationes". It is believed by some that it was based on several earlier maps, chiefly those based on the Ptolemy atlas and the Caveri planisphere and others similar to those of Martellus or Behaim. The Caribbean and what appears to be Florida were depicted on two earlier charts, the Cantino map, smuggled from Portugal to Italy in 1502 showing details known in 1500, and the Caverio map, drawn circa 1503-1504 and showing the Gulf of Mexico. Whereas the earlier maps may not assure whether or not their map-makers thought the western lands were separate from Asia (although an eastern coastline for Asia is depicted on the maps dated after 1500), the Waldseemüller map shows America clearly separated from Asia by a large expanse of ocean.

The Waldseemüller map depicts North and South America as two large continents. The main map shows the two continents slightly separated, while the small inset map in the top border shows them joined by an isthmus. The name "America" is placed on South America, this being the first map known to use this name. As explained in "Cosmographiae Introductio", the name was bestowed in honor of Amerigo Vespucci.

In depicting the Americas separate from Asia, the map shows a great ocean between the mountainous western coasts of the Americas and the eastern coast of Asia. The first historical records of Europeans to set eyes on this ocean, the Pacific, are recorded as Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1513 or, Ponce de León in 1512 or 1513. Those dates are five to six years after Waldseemüller made his map. In addition, the map predicts the width of South America at certain latitudes to within 70 miles.cite news|first=David|last=Alexander|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN0332239320071203?sp=true|title=Map that named America is a puzzle for researchers|publisher=Reuters|date=2007-12-05|accessdate=2007-12-05]

Apparently among most map-makers until that time, it was still erroneously believed that the lands discovered by Christopher Columbus, Vespucci, and others formed part of the Indies of Asia. Thus some believe that it is impossible that Waldseemüller could have known about the Pacific, which is depicted on his map. The historian Peter Whitfield has theorised that Waldseemüller incorporated the ocean into his map because Vespucci's accounts of the Americas, with their so-called "savage" peoples, could not be reconciled with contemporary knowledge of India, China, and the islands of Indies. Thus, Waldseemüller reasoned, the newly discovered lands could not be part of Asia, but must be separate from it, a leap of intuition that was later proved uncannily precise.

Most importantly, "Mundus Novus", a book attributed to Vespucci, who had explored the extensive eastern coast of South America, was widely published throughout Europe after 1504, including by Waldseemüller's group in 1507, first introduced to Europeans the idea that this was a new continent and "not" Asia, hence, Waldseemüller's separating America from Asia, depicting the Pacific Ocean, and the use of the first name of Vespucci on his map.

The wall map consists of twelve sections printed from wood engravings measuring 18 x 24.5 inches (46 x 62 cm). Each section is one of four horizontally and three vertically, when assembled. The map uses a modified Ptolemaic conformal projection with curved meridians to depict the entire surface of the Earth.

Extant copies

Of the one thousand copies of the wall map printed, only one is known still to exist. It was originally owned by Johannes Schöner (1477–1547), a Nuremberg astronomer, geographer, and cartographer. Its existence was unknown for a long time until its rediscovery in 1901 in the library of Prince von Waldburg-Wolfegg-Waldsee in Wolfegg Castle in Württemberg, Germany by Joseph Fischer. It remained there until 2001 when the United States Library of Congress purchased it from Waldburg-Wolfegg-Waldsee for ten million dollars [cite news|url=http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2001/01-093.html|title=Library Acquires Only Known Copy of 1507 World Map Compiled by Martin Waldseemüller|publisher=Library of Congress|date=2001-07-23] [cite news|url=http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2003/03-110.html|title=Library Completes Purchase of Waldseemüller Map|publisher=Library of Congress|date=2003-06-18] . It will be permanently displayed in the Library of Congress, within a display case filled with argon. [cite news|url=http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2007/07-143.html|title=Construction Under Way for Encasement of the 1507 Waldseemüller Map|publisher=Library of Congress|date=2007-06-29] There has been some suggestion that it is from a second edition produced about 1515. Its preservation seems to be due to the several sheets being bound into a single cover by Schöner.

Four copies of the globe gores are known still to exist. The first to be rediscovered was found in 1871 and is now in the James Ford Bell Library of the University of Minnesota. Another copy was found inside a Ptolemy atlas and is in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. A third copy was discovered in 1992 bound into an edition of Aristotle in the Bibliothek Stadtbücherei Offenburg, a public library in Germany. A fourth copy came to light in 2003 when its European owner read a newspaper article about the Waldseemüller map. It was sold at auction to Charles Frodsham & Co. for $1,002,267, a world record price for a single sheet map. [cite news|url=http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/06/08/america.map/index.html|title=First map of America makes $1m|publisher=CNN.com|date=2003-06-08]

ee also

*Ancient world maps
*History of cartography
*Mappa mundi
*World map
*Here be dragons
*Terra Incognita
*Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, considered to be the first true modern atlas.
*Vinland Map, a 15th century map of disputed authenticity
*Caverio map, made in 1505.
*Piri Reis map, made in 1513 (based on 20 older maps).
*Johannes Schöner globe, made in 1520.
*The "Zheng He map", a world map dated to the 17th century but claimed to be a copy of an early 15th century map.
*Nebra sky disk, a Bronze Age "map" of the cosmos.


External links

* [http://www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/waldexh.html 1507 Waldseemüller Map from the US Library of Congress]
* [http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/06/0619_030619_americamap.html National Geographic News: US Buys Oldest Map Marked "America"]
* [http://www.bell.lib.umn.edu/map/WALD/indexw.html Martin Waldseemüller - Bell Library: Maps and Mapmakers]

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