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.

Standard
18th Century Maps, American Maps, Copperplate, Engraving, Maps

John Reid’s Map of America

General Map of North America Drawn from the Best Surveys. 1795. By John Reid. Published by Smith, Reid, & Wayland. Copper plate engraving, 1796. Image size 14 5/16 x 18 1/4" 9364 x 463 mm). Good condition. Black & white. LINK.

General Map of North America Drawn from the Best Surveys. 1795. By John Reid. Published by Smith, Reid, & Wayland. Copper plate engraving, 1796. Image size 14 5/16 x 18 1/4″ 9364 x 463 mm). Good condition. Black & white. LINK.
(Double click image to zoom in.)

Today we are sharing a new addition to our OPG map inventory, John Reid’s General Map of North America Drawn from the Best Surveys. 1795.  This map is from John Reid’s 1796 American Atlas, which was only the second atlas to be published in the United States. At the time, Philadelphia was the hub of most US publishing endeavors, but Reid chose to both engrave and produce the map in New York City. He worked with the engraver John Scoles to create this 21 map atlas. Unlike many of the atlases of the early 19th century, which were produced and updated several times over, there is only one edition of Reid’s American Atlas, making the maps within it rare and collectible examples of early American cartography.

This map, and five others in Reid’s “American Atlas”, is a cartographic copy of the America map in William Winterbotham’s  “An Historical, Geographical, Commercial and Philosophical View of the American United States…”, a 1785 London published book containing maps by John Russell. The rest of the maps in Reid’s atlas were completely new, although somewhat inspired and influenced by Mathew Carey’s atlas published the year prior.

Cartographically, this map shows the new north-south boundary lines of the fledgling United States. The northeast border is set to the St. Croix River, as a result of the 1795 Jay Treaty between Great Britain and the United States.

Detail of United States northern border.

Detail of United States northern border.

In the south, the 1795 Pinckney’s Treaty between Spain and the United States re-negotiated the border between Georgia and Spanish-controlled East and West Florida. This agreement lowered the line back to the 31st parallel north and increased the United States’ access to the Mississippi River and the extremely important trading port of New Orleans.

Detail of United States southern border.

Detail of United States southern border.

There is substantial detail along the northwest coast of America, but only a meager amount of information beyond the coast. Reid fails to identify western settlements, peoples, or topographical features. The lone exceptions are the Rocky Mountains, which Reid labels the “Stony Mountains”, and a large, unnamed lake, which is now called Lake Timpanogos, located in present-day Utah.

"Stony Mountains" and unnamed Lake Timpanogos.

Western coastline of America, including the “Stony Mountains” and large, unnamed Lake Timpanogos.

With the Louisiana Purchase still 8 years in the future, Reid (not-surprisingly) focuses almost all cartographic detail on New Spain, British Canada, and the new United States. The map includes “References to the United States”- a key to the names of the States. Scale for the map is not given.

The fledgling United States, with "References to the United States" key to the right.

The fledgling United States, with “References to the United States” key to the right.

Standard