Schedel's Ancient World Map
"Secunda Etas Mundi", Schedel, Hartmann
Subject: Ancient World
Period: 1493 (published)
Publication: Liber Chronicarum
Color: Hand Color
17.2 x 12.2 inches
43.7 x 31 cm
Hartmann Schedel's Nuremberg Chronicle (Liber Chronicarum) was published in two editions, Latin and German, both in 1493, appearing in print just before Christopher Columbus' discoveries completely re-shaped the European view of the World. This splendid work presented the history of the world in a pictorial encyclopedia with approximately 285 pages of text and 1,800 woodcut illustrations. Among these illustrations are views of towns and cities throughout Europe and the Near East. The majority of these views are entirely imaginary. In fact, 49 of the views are actually printed from the same group of 14 woodblocks. There are also 30 double-page views of cities with more realistic images. In addition to the topographical images, there are an enormous number of other subjects, including diagrams of the Creation, comets, family trees, portraits & biblical scenes. The text was compiled and edited by Hartmann Schedel, printed by Anton Koberger, with illustrations designed by Michael Wohlgemuth and Willem Pleydenwurff, who cut the woodblocks, probably with the assistance of their apprentice, Albrecht Durer.
This striking and important map of the world is the last map to appear before the dissemination of Columbus' discoveries in the New World. The map was printed a mere forty years after the invention of printing and is one of the earliest world maps available to the collector. Noah's three sons, Ham, Shem, and Japhet, hold the map up to view and the wide border includes the twelve winds with their Latin and Greek names. The map is in the typical Ptolemaic form with the Indian Ocean completely enclosed by land and a huge Taprobana (Ceylon). The source of the map was apparently the frontispiece of Pomponius Mela's Cosmographia (1488). At left is a panel of seven fantastic humanoid creatures reflecting the fertile imaginations of the Chronicle artists about the inhabitants of the remotest parts of the world. Two panels containing fourteen more monstrosities and exotic peoples fill the verso along with Latin text. Some of these creatures are based on classical writings, while others were born of medieval traveler's tales, and include a dog-headed man, a hermaphrodite, Cyclops, and a man with his feet on backwards. Overall size, including panel at left and text below is 20.3 x 14.3".
References: Shirley #19; Wilson, p.98-122; Mickwitz & Miekkavaara #279-1.
Sharp impression and attractive color with wide, original margins. There are expert and almost invisible repairs to the usual binding holes along centerfold and to two tears that extend about 5" from centerfold near top of map. A hole along centerfold just above map image has been expertly replaced with the leaf-casting method, with a small amount of neatline and text adjacent to windhead in facsimile. Despite these imperfections, this map presents itself beautifully.