Catalog Archive
Auction 168, Lot 731

"[Facsimile] Cosmographia", Ptolemy

Subject: References

Period: 1963 (published)


Color: Black & White

11.9 x 17.6 inches
30.2 x 44.7 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 handsome facsimile of the 1477 Bologna edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia is the very first volume of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum facsimile atlas series. According to R.A. Skelton's bibliographical note, this edition of Cosmographia is particularly important because "its maps were the earliest to be printed from copper plates," ushering in a new era in the history of cartography. It includes 26 black & white double-page Ptolemaic maps and 61 leaves of text. Hardbound in grey cloth with gilt insignia and title on spine.


Condition: B+

Contents good with light toning on the pages. Covers have light shelf wear.

Estimate: $300 - $400

Sold for: $375

Closed on 6/6/2018