Catalog Archive
Auction 156, Lot 608

"Tabu. Nova Asiae Mi.", Ptolemy/Fries

Subject: Turkey & Cyprus

Period: 1535 (published)

Publication: Claudii Ptolemaei Alexandrini Geographicae…

Color: Hand Color

14.9 x 11.6 inches
37.8 x 29.5 cm

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).

A spectacular example of this early and desirable Ptolemaic of the Middle East. Cyprus is surprisingly shown less accurately than the earlier 1513 edition. There is good detail of place names along the shoreline with the interior limited to a few rivers, mountain ranges, a lake, and a king seated on his throne. Title above the map is in a fancy banner-style cartouche. On verso is Latin text, some very fine architectural woodcut illustrations attributed to Hans Holbein of Basel, and the title "de Mahometo et Turcarum Origine et moribus." Published in Lyon by Melchior and Gaspar Treschsel.

This map is from the atlas often referred to as 'editio prima Serveti' after its editor, Michael Villanovus, better known as Servetus, who was burned alive in 1553 for heresy. The map of the Holy Land from this atlas had on its verso a comment suggesting that the area was not as beautiful and fertile as generally believed, but was actually barren, according to travelers. This statement was one of the pieces of evidence used against Servetus. Calvin had many copies of the 1535 atlas confiscated and burned with Servetus.

References: Mickwitz & Miekkavaara #209-33.

Condition: A

There manuscript notations and faint soiling all confined to the blank margins.

Estimate: $700 - $850

Sold for: $500

Closed on 2/17/2016