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.
Based on Ortelius’ map of 1570, this map appears in the later editions of Munster's Cosmographia. The woodblock map is elegantly engraved in the style of copper engravings. It depicts the continent with a jagged coastline with several prominent bays. In the interior there are several large lakes, including the twin lakes source of the Nile. The coast of Brazil appears in the lower left corner. Two small ships, a sea monster and a block-style title cartouche decorate the map. The verso contains German text and a decorated arch above with the monogram V.G., indicating it is the 1598 edition.
References: Betz #21; Norwich #14.
Light soiling with two small stains in the image. A tiny fold separation confined to the bottom blank margin and a small edge tear in the top blank margin have been archivally repaired. There are small printer's creases adjacent to the centerfold.