Orbis Typus Universalis Luxta Hydrographorum Traditionem

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Orbis Typus Universalis Luxta Hydrographorum Traditionem

Martin Waldseemuller (1470-1520) after Claudius Ptolemaeus (After 83-ca. 168 AD) 
Orbis Typus Universalis Luxta Hydrographorum Traditionem
Woodcut, Strassburg: Johann Schott, 1513
18 1/3 x 23 3/4 inches.

One of the earliest obtainable maps of the world to show modern discoveries, from Ptolemy’s Geographie opus nouissima traductione e Grecorum archetypis castigatissime pressum, published in Strassburg by Johann Schott in 1513. This was the first modern atlas, prepared by Martin Waldseemuller, scholar-geographer from the small town of St. Die in Lorraine, using the translation of Mathias Ringmann. It is one of the most important editions of Ptolemy, containing many new regional maps: twenty new maps based on contemporary knowledge with a great deal of new information.

In his introductory text to the atlas, Ringmann referrs to the “Charta autem Marina”, derived from observations made by Christopher Columbus, or “The Admiral”, as a major source of information for the coastline of the New World, although Alberto Cantino’s portolan map dated 1502, based on the discoveries of Gaspar Corte Real, and Nicolo Caveri’s of 1505, seem more likely candidates. This information is reflected in the “Orbis Typus Universalis” and in another map in the same atlas: the first map in an atlas entirely devoted to America, “Tabula terre nove”, often called the “Admiral’s map”, after Columbus, as it references him within the coastline of Brazil. In “Orbis Typus Universalis” the landmass remains unnamed, perhaps in a vain attempt to reverse the notion that it should be called “America”, as it previously appeared in Waldseemuller’s large wall map of 1507, which is now in the library of congress. See Burden pages xix-xxii, and 3; Shirley 35.

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