PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius (after 83 - ca 168 AD). Orbis Typus Universalis Iuxta Hydrographorum Traditionem. Strassburg: Johann Schott 1513.

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Single sheet, float-mounted and framed (18 2/8 x 23 6/8 inches). Double-page woodcut map of the world by Martin Waldseemuller, showing the modern discoveries, centred on Europe, Africa and Asia, but with the coastline of Brazil and the islands of Isabella (Cuba) and Spagnolla (Haiti/Dominican Republic) to the west, the title within the image across the top, and the whole decorated with extensive rhumb lines (the top margin and first half inch of the map supplied in facsimile, washed).

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.

"Orbis Typus Universalis" redraws the British Isles, India, Sri Lanka and Madagascar, and Greenland is shown as an elongated peninsular attached to the top of Scandinavia, however the "representation of the Americas is most rough and incomplete, as if Waldseemuller felt uncertain about the shape of the New World,... South America is shown in part outline; north of it are the islands of "Isabella" (Cuba) and "Spagnolla" (Haiti/Dominican Republic)" (Shirley 35). 

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. See Burden pages xix-xxii, and 3; Shirley 35. For more information about this map, or a warm welcome to see it and others in our gallery at 72nd Street, NYC, please contact Caleb Kiffer.