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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Map of the Day: "Tabula Terre Nove" from Claudii Ptolemei. Geographie opus novissima traductione e grecorum archetypis. Waldseemüller, Martin (c. 1470 - c. 1521)

Dimensions:  18" x 23 3/4"

The "Tabula Terre Nove" was the most important map included in Martin Waldseemüller's 1513 Ptolemaic atlas. Completed just twenty years after the discovery of America, it was without question the best representation of the New World to date. Waldseemüller noted that the map was derived from observations made by "the Admiral," generally thought to indicate Christopher Columbus.

In a map of the New World completed several years before, Waldseemüller had named the new lands "America" after Amerigo Vespucci, whom he mistakenly thought of as their discoverer. In the "Tabula Terre Nove," the cartographer attempted to correct his mistake, naming it simply "Map of New Lands," but to no avail, as his original name has clearly stuck. This map has long represented to scholars and historians the best and earliest state of knowledge regarding the New World. Furthermore, this example is especially notable for having original color. Most of the surviving examples of the map - and there are very few - are uncolored, or were colored at a later time.

Martin Waldseemüller, a highly accomplished student of geography, merged the science of mapmaking and the art of printing in his 1513 atlas, one of the most groundbreaking documents in the history of cartography. He intended this atlas as a new edition of Ptolemy's Geographia and, like other cartographers, dutifully paid homage to Ptolemy with twenty-seven maps in the "ancient form." Yet he added a second part to his atlas: twenty "new maps" using the innovation of a quadratic plane projection, used to create "a representation.of the world more proper to our time." He was the first to recognize the necessity of moving forward and questioning the conclusions of ancient authorities, and thereby led people to recognize geography as an evolving science, as befit a world entering the modern age.

The "Tabula Terre Nove" is one example of the twenty revolutionary "new maps" in Waldseemüller's atlas, and in general one of the most important early maps of the New World. 

Offered at $275,000 

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