Catalog Archive
Auction 152, Lot 389

"[Untitled - Britain and Ireland]", Ptolemy/Waldseemuller

Subject: Britain

Period: 1520 (published)

Publication: Ptolemaeus Auctus, Restitutus, Emaculatus cum Tabulis Veteribus ac Novis

Color: Hand Color

22.9 x 15.9 inches
58.2 x 40.4 cm
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Claudius Ptolemy was a mathematician, astronomer and geographer who worked in Alexandria, then a part of the Roman Empire, in the 2nd century AD. One of the most learned and influential men of his time, his theories dominated both astronomy and geography for nearly 1500 years. His writings were kept alive by Arabic scholars during the Middle Ages and reemerged in Europe during the Renaissance. The birth of printing led to wide dissemination of his great works on astronomy and geography. There were a number of editions of his Geographia beginning in 1477. These early editions contained maps based on his original writings, known as Ptolemaic maps. As geographic knowledge increased with the explorations of Columbus, Magellan, Cabot and others, maps of the New World were added, and maps of the Old World were revised. Ptolemy's Geographia continued to be revised and published by some of the most important cartographers including Martin Waldseemuller, Sebastian Munster, Giacomo Gastaldi, Jodocus Hondius, and Gerard Mercator (whose last edition was published in 1730).

This superb Ptolemaic map of the British Isles is presented in a trapezoidal projection with climates and ancient parallels inserted in the side borders. The geographical data used by Ptolemy was collected in the second century A.D., when Britain lay at the extremity of the known world. Thus the representation is distorted with Scotland shown in a distinctive east-west orientation and Ireland located too far north. This is the second state of the map, lacking the text outside the borders present in the 1513 edition. Additionally, the inscriptions "Germaniae Magna" has been amended from "Germaniae Magnae Pars" and "Oceanus Duecalledon" has been changed from "Oceanus Duecalledonius."

References: Mickwitz & Miekkavaara #207-22; Shirley (BI to 1650) #13.

Condition: B+

Issued on watermarked paper with wide margins. There is a long centerfold separation along the center of the image and a few small adjacent separations that have been closed on verso with archival material.

Estimate: $900 - $1,200

Sold for: $1,200

Closed on 2/18/2015