Catalog Archive
Auction 158, Lot 13

"Modern" World Map with Portraits of Five Kings

"Tabula Nova Totius Orbis", Ptolemy/Fries

Subject: World

Period: 1541 (published)

Publication: Claudii Ptolemaei Alexandrini Geographicae…

Color: Hand Color

17.9 x 11.2 inches
45.5 x 28.4 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).

This is one of two 'modern' world maps included in Fries' Ptolemaic atlas and one of the few early 16th century world maps available to collectors. It is a reduced version of Waldseemuller's famous Admiral's Map, concentrating on the Old World but showing parts of America at the left side. Decorative elements have been added including an elephant and portraits of five kings - of Russia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Toprobana and Mursuli. It provides a fascinating view of what was known, and not known, of the world at the beginning of the Age of Discovery.

References: Shirley #49; Mickwitz & Miekkavaara #211-49.

Condition: A

A crisp and clean example on paper with a bunch of grapes watermark and full original margins. There is a small worm track along the centerfold at top that has been professionally infilled, with a minute portion of the title and neatline replaced in facsimile.

Estimate: $4,000 - $5,000

Sold for: $4,250

Closed on 6/22/2016