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Ptolemy’s Geographia

Ptolemy’s Geographia was a worldwide best seller of ancient times and was immensely influential for many influential explorers, most notably Christopher Columbus. Columbus was especially excited about Ptolemy’s exaggerated size of Asia and persuaded others to finance his journey with the expectation of riches from the relatively close and geographically expansive Asian continent. Of course, the reality of his journey was much different.

The greatest contribution of Ptolemy was not the maps themselves but the concepts behind the maps. He offered three different methods of map projections and provided coordinates to all the geographic features he knew, more than 8,000 places. He invented the concept of latitude and longitude, a mapping system still commonly used today. Latitude was measured horizontally from the equator while longitude was measured from the westernmost landmass known to date, the Canary Islands off of the coast of Spain.

The Greek text of the Geography reached Florence from Constantinople in about 1400 and was translated into Latin by Jacobus Angelus of Scarperia around 1406. The first printed edition with maps, published in 1477 in Bologna, was also the first printed book with engraved illustrations. Many editions followed (more often using woodcut in the early days), some following traditional versions of the maps, and others updating them.

Here with, we are pleased to present a selection of Ptolemaic maps, the high light being a complete 1513 atlas, the first ‘Modern’ edition of Ptolemy and arguably, the most important of all Ptolemy editions.

Geographie opus nouissima traductione e Grecorum archetypis castigatissime pressum PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius (after 83 - ca 168 AD) Published by Johann Schott, 1513
One of the most important editions of Ptolemy, containing many new regional maps: twenty new maps based on contemporary knowledge "unlike many of the alleged 'new' maps produced by earlier editors, [they] contained a great deal of new information, and in nearly every case they were decided improvements over anything that had been previously offered" ("The World Encompasssed," 56), and were included in addition to the traditional body of twenty-seven Ptolemaic maps derived from the 1482 Ulm edition.
Geographie opus nouissima traductione e Grecorum archetypis castigatissime pressum PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius (after 83 - ca 168 AD) Published by Johann Schott, 1513
$ 390,000.00
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WALDSEEMULLER, Martin  (1470-1520) after Claudius Ptolemaeus (After 83-ca. 168 AD). [World Map] Orbis Typus Universalis luxta hydrographorum...
Double-page woodcut map of the world by Martin Waldseemuller from 1513, and the earliest to show the modern discoveries of the New World.
WALDSEEMULLER, Martin (1470-1520) after Claudius Ptolemaeus (After 83-ca. 168 AD). [World Map] Orbis Typus Universalis luxta hydrographorum...
$ 65,000.00
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SYLVANUS Bernardus, Quarta Europae Tabula, 1511
Sylvanus's scarce map of northern Europe, depicting the region encircled by the Rhine in the west, the Danube in the south, and the Vistula in the east. One of the earliest obtainable maps of the region,
SYLVANUS Bernardus, Quarta Europae Tabula, 1511
$ 3,240.00
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WALDSEEMULLER Martin, Tabula Moderna Italie, 1513
One of the first acquirable, separate maps of Italy based on modern toponymy, rather than the classical place names of Ptolemy.
WALDSEEMULLER Martin, Tabula Moderna Italie, 1513
$ 4,297.00
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WALDSEEMULLER Martin, Tabula Neoterica Crete Sive Candie Insule, 1513
The prototype map of the modern Crete. One of the rare modern maps of the most famous Ptolemy edition. This representation of Crete served as a prototype map for countless maps until the end of the 18th century.
WALDSEEMULLER Martin, Tabula Neoterica Crete Sive Candie Insule, 1513
$ 3,700.00
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WALDSEEMULLER Martin, Nona Asiae Tabula, 1513
FINE woodcut map of Pakistan, northwest India, showing the Ganges, Indus rivers.
WALDSEEMULLER Martin, Nona Asiae Tabula, 1513
$ 7,500.00
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WALDSEEMULLER Martin, Tabula Moderna Indiae, 1513
The first modern map devoted to Asia.
WALDSEEMULLER Martin, Tabula Moderna Indiae, 1513
$ 9,900.00
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FRIES Lorenz, Balkans, Romania, Greece Tabula IX Europae, 1535
Nice example of the 1525 edition of Lorenz Fries map of the Balkans, Romania and northern Greece
FRIES Lorenz, Balkans, Romania, Greece Tabula IX Europae, 1535
$ 430.00
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RUSCELLI, Girolamo, Europae Tabula VII (Sicily, Malta, Sardinia), 1564
Ruscelli's Ptolemaeic map of Sicily, Sardinia and Malta is one of the earliest obtainable maps of the region.
RUSCELLI, Girolamo, Europae Tabula VII (Sicily, Malta, Sardinia), 1564
$ 475.00
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