Auction 150, Lot 745

Apianus' Popular Book on Cosmography

"[Lot of 2] Cosmographia [with] Charta Cosmographica, cum Ventorum Propria Natura & Operatione", Apianus, Peter Bienewitz

Subject: Atlases

Period: 1564 (published)


Color: Black & White

6 x 8.9 inches
15.2 x 22.6 cm

Included with this Latin edition of Apianus' popular Cosmographia is a very interesting world map based on the now lost world map of Gemma Frisius, which is significant in the history of the mapping of America. The continents are broadly based on Mercator's globe gores of 1541, but North America is shown as a long slender landmass labeled Baccalearium in reference to the cod fishing region off the coasts of New England and Canada. It employs a cordiform projection and depicts a distinct northern passage to Asia over the top of North America. There are few geographical features other than the prominent twin lake sources of the Nile in Africa. The heart-shaped border of the map contains signs of the zodiac within a cloud background filled with mythical figures and wind heads. One of the deities at top sports the design of the Holy Roman Emperor's double eagle on his breastplate and the three cadaverous wind heads at bottom represent plague-carrying winds of the south. This is an example from the second of three woodblocks, issued with Latin and Dutch text. The world map is not attached to the book, and actually comes from a different example of the Cosmographia, as it is printed on a slightly larger sheet.

The Cosmographia of Petrus Apianus was one of the most popular books on cosmography ever published. It covers a multitude of subjects including the climatic zones, the uses of parallels and meridians, the determination of latitude and longitude, map projections, etc. One of the reasons it was enormously popular is the inclusion of volvelles that enabled one to solve practical mathematical problems relating to time telling, the calendar, astronomy and astrology. There are four (of five) of these ingenious paper devices included, and numerous other interesting diagrams and illustrations. The movable parts of the volvelle Aux Solis are missing. In addition to the world map, there is also a small map of Greece, and one of the volvelles is constructed on a map of the northern hemisphere. This edition, corrected and augmented by geographer and mathematician Gemma Frisius, contains Gemma's important treatise on triangulation, which first appeared in 1533. The treatise was the first instance of triangulation being proposed as a means of locating and mapping places. 8vo, in full vellum covers.

References: Shirley #96.

Condition: B+

The map is a nice impression on watermarked paper with original margins, a tiny centerfold separation in top blank margin, and a few faint spots of foxing. One of the nicer examples we've seen, with only a centerfold rather than the typical multi-folded examples found in most <i>Cosmographia</i>. The text is mildly toned, with folio text pages 46-48 missing. The four volvelles are in excellent working condition. The covers and spine are lightly toned and soiled.

Estimate: $4,000 - $4,750

Sold for: $3,000

Closed on 9/17/2014