16th Century Maps, American Maps, Maps, New Additions, Woodcut

New Additions: Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula

Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45). Image size 10 x 13 3/8" (25.5 x 34.1 cm) plus margins. Very good condition save for some minor splitting along centerfold. Black & white. LINK.

Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45). Image size 10 x 13 3/8″ (25.5 x 34.1 cm) plus margins. Very good condition save for some minor splitting along centerfold. Black & white. LINK.

Munster’s map of New World is one of the most important and influential maps of the 16th Century, as it is the earliest to show all of North and South America in a true continental form. This impression is a rare second state of the map, from Munster’s “Cosmography”.  In this second state, published c.1544, the title was changed from “Novae Insulae XVII. . .” to “Novae Insulae XXVI . . .” and appeared in only one edition, making it very scarce.

Geographically, North America is oddly shaped and depicts one of the great geographic misconceptions.  In 1523, Giovanni di Verrazano, a Florentine explorer sailing for King Francis I of France, passed by the outer banks of the Carolinas. He mistook Pamlico Sound for an Oriental Sea that would lead to the Spice Islands, believing that the Barrier Islands were all that constituted North America at the point of the Carolinas. Munster recorded and included Verrazano’s accounts in the greatly successful “Cosmography,” which propagated the myth for many years.

(Detail of North America, depicting the slim Barrier Islands of the Carolinas as the only land mass between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.) Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45).  LINK.

Detail of North America, depicting the slim Barrier Islands of the Carolinas as the only land mass between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45). LINK.

This early map is filled with interesting cartographic details.

  • The flags of Spain (on Puerto Rico) and Portugal (shown in the South Atlantic) depict their respective spheres of influence in the New World.

    Detail of flag of Spain on Puerto Rico (at left) and flag of Portugal in the South Atlantic (at right). Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45).  LINK.

    Detail of flag of Spain on Puerto Rico (at left) and flag of Portugal in the South Atlantic (at right).
    Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45). LINK.

  • The Yucatan Peninsula is shown as an Island.
  • This is the first map to name the Pacific Ocean (Mare Pacificum).
  • South America is depicted with a large bulge in the northwest and notes that cannibals inhabit parts of it.

    Detail of northwest bulge of South America, inhabited by terrifying cannibals hiding in bushes. Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45).  LINK.

    Detail of northwest bulge of South America, inhabited by terrifying cannibals hiding in bushes.
    Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45). LINK.

  • It is also the first map to show Japan (Zipangri), based entirely upon the accounts of Marco Polo and other early travelers.

    Detail of Japan, marked as "Zipangri" on this map. Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45).  LINK.

    Detail of Japan, marked as “Zipangri” on this map.
    Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45). LINK.

  • Shown in the Pacific Ocean is Magellan’s ship, Victoria.

    Detail of Magellan's ship "Victoria",  first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world. Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45).  LINK.

    Detail of Magellan’s ship “Victoria”, the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world.
    Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. Sebastian Munster. Published by Sebastian Munster, Basel. Woodcut, 1540, (c.1544-45). LINK.

Overall, this map is as interesting as it is cartographically significant, and would make an impressive addition to any map collection. Come see it in person at our Georgetown gallery, which is open every Tuesday- Saturday.

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16th Century Maps, 18th Century Maps, Copperplate, Engraving, Maps, Past/Present

Past/Present: Maps of America

Today we have a new P/P post, featuring two maps of North America. The earlier map, America sive India Nova, is one of the most striking early maps of the Western Hemisphere. Michael Mercator, grandson of Gerard, engraved this plate, the only known printed map by him. Cartographically, this map was based on Mercator’s landmark world map of 1587. This map is set within a circle surrounded by a design of interlocking acanthus leaves, cornucopias and insects. There are three inset maps, the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and Florida, and Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Also depicted are a Northwest Passage, a large island of New Guinea and a huge Antarctic continent. The later map, Hemisphere Occidental, is a circular map of North and South America, with the area above Cape Mendocino in California left unmapped. The oceans are marked with the tracks of several expeditions, including those of Halley, Mendana, Tasman and Magellan.

Image on Left: America sive India Nova by Michael Mercator.  Published by Rumold Mercator, Duisburg. Engraving, 1595 (c.1633).

Image on Right: Hemisphere Occidental: Dresse en 1720 pour l’usage particulier du Roy sur les Observations Astronomiques et Geographiques raportees la meme annee dans l’Histoire et dans les memoires de l’Academie Rle. des Sciences by Guillaume De L’Isle. Published by l’Academie Royale des Sciences. Handcolored engraving, 1724.

 

 





 

 


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