Catalog Archive
Auction 158, Lot 47

"[Untitled - Armillary Sphere with Windheads]", Ptolemy/Fries

Subject: Cartographic Miscellany

Period: 1522 (circa)

Publication: Claudii Ptolemaei Alexandrini Geographicae…

Color: Black & White

10.4 x 12.6 inches
26.4 x 32 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 woodblock engraving shows an armillary sphere with a large globe at center and surrounded by twelve classical winds. Each wind direction is depicted with a windhead and labeled with Greek names based on Timosthenes of Rhodes (fl. 270 BC) and Roman names based on Seneca (4 BC – AD 65). This engraving, along with a number of other engraved blocks from the atlas, have been attributed to Durer. This engraving is a fine reminder of Ptolemy's forward thinking belief in the world as round.


Condition: A

Nice impression on watermarked paper with minor damp stains in the blank margins and two small chips at top right that have been professionally repaired.

Estimate: $550 - $700

Sold for: $400

Closed on 6/22/2016