Catalog Archive
Auction 161, Lot 56

Rare Early State of One of the Most Important 16th Century Maps of the New World

"Die Neuwe Inselen / so zu Unsern Zeiten Durch die Kunig von Hispania im Grossen Oceano Gefunden Sindt", Munster, Sebastian

Subject: Western Hemisphere - America

Period: 1548 (published)

Publication: Cosmographia

Color: Black & White

13.4 x 10.1 inches
34 x 25.7 cm

Sebastian Munster (1489 - 1552) was one of the three most renowned cartographers of the sixteenth century, along with Mercator and Ortelius. Munster's Geographia and Cosmographia Universalis were two of the most widely read and influential books of the period. His editions of Ptolemy's Geographia, published between 1540 and 1552, were illustrated with 48 woodcut maps, the standard 27 Ptolemaic maps supplemented by 21 new maps. These new maps included a separate map of each of the known continents and marked the development of regional cartography in Central Europe. The antique geography was a prelude to Munster's major work, the Cosmographia, which was published in nearly 30 editions in six languages between 1544 and 1578 and then was revised and reissued by Sebastian Petri from 1588 to 1628. The Cosmographia was a geographical as well as historical and ethnographic description of the world. It contained the maps from the Geographia plus additional regional maps and city views with nearly 500 illustrations which made it one of the most popular pictorial encyclopedias of the sixteen century.

This map of the New World is often credited with popularizing the name America due to the popularity of Munster's Cosmographia and the numerous editions published in the sixteenth century. The influence of Marco Polo's 13th century explorations in Asia are evident with the 7448 islands in the North Pacific and Zipangri (Japan) shown only a short distance off the western coast of North America. The North American continent is very oddly shaped without a California landmass and the eastern region is nearly bisected by a body of water, known as the Sea of Verrazzano. The Yucatan is still shown as an island, Cozumel is named nearby as Cozumela, and the lake at Temistitan is connected to the Gulf of Mexico. South America has a large bulge on the western coast, the Amazon River is very short, and cannibals inhabit the continent shown with the name Canibali next to a gruesome vignette with human limbs. The map is very decorative with Magellan's surviving ship Victoria appearing in the Pacific. The flags of Spain and Portugal depict their respective spheres of influence in the New World. On verso is an alternate German title (Die Newe Weldt der Grossen unnd Vilen Inselen von den Spaniern Gefunden) set within an architectural surround. This is the rare and early fourth state of this map according to Burden (and the third state according to Kershaw).

References: Burden #12, state 4; Kershaw #3.

Condition: B+

An exceptional dark, crisp impression on watermarked paper with a few spots of soiling along the centerfold. Trimmed by the bookbinder within the neatline at left and right, extending a maximum of 5 mm into the image at bottom; now expertly remargined with period-correct paper with the 5 mm of missing image skillfully and seamlessly replaced in facsimile.

Estimate: $4,750 - $6,000

Sold for: $2,750

Closed on 2/8/2017