Catalog Archive
Auction 174, Lot 721

"Sumatra ein Grosse Insel so von den Alten Geographen Taprobana ist Genennt Worden", Munster, Sebastian

Subject: Sri Lanka

Period: 1578 (published)

Publication: Cosmographey Oder Beschreibung Aller Lander…

Color: Black & White

13.4 x 9.8 inches
34 x 24.9 cm
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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 is a great woodblock map of the island of Taprobana, which was variously thought to be Ceylon (Sri Lanka) or Sumatra until late in the sixteenth century. This map depicts Ceylon with the typical misconceptions of Ptolemy showing a small part of India incorrectly in the northeast corner of the map. A most interesting feature of the map is the large engraving of an elephant beneath a tree that was copied from Gastaldi with descriptive text in a cartouche below. The elephant is shown with large padded feet and a scoop on the end of its trunk. An elaborate woodblock engraving with German text on verso.

References: Shirley (BL Atlases) T.MUN-1k #23; Mickwitz & Miekkavaara #158-23.

Condition: B+

Light toning with some staining that is mostly in the blank margins and lower right border. There is a small binding hole in top margin, not affecting the map.

Estimate: $250 - $325

Sold for: $180

Closed on 9/11/2019