Very Early Maps from Martayan Lan
Very early maps from Martayan Lan.
Martayan Lan, the noted New York map seller, has issued their Catalogue 45 - Early & Rare World Maps, Atlases & Rare Books. Mainly from a Private Collection. We will focus on the earliest, though everything here is early, and most very early. Of the 31 items offered, 28 were printed before 1600. These maps may not provide accurate directions for travelers today, but they do reveal what people believed the world to be during the earliest years of the Age of Discovery. They reveal the rapid progress in learning that took place during the 16th century, when the world to Europeans expanded from Europe, and a not well understood Africa and Asia, to a much better defined place that now included the Americas. Here are some of the earliest of these early maps.
There is no more appropriate place to start than the first printed map. It is a map of the world, though it is a small, undetailed, and undifferentiated map. Originally created almost a millennium earlier by Isidore Bishop of Seville, it was reproduced in Etymologiae, an encyclopedic type of work. This is what is known as a TO map, and it's about as primitive as it gets. It consists of a circle with a T inside. On the left side of the staff of the T is Europe, to the right Africa. Above the crossbar of the T is Asia. The staff represents the Mediterranean Sea, the crossbar some vague combination of waterways such as the Nile and Black Sea. The O, which surrounds the map, represents the oceans. The only other notations on the map are directions. The T-shape of the dividers undoubtedly represents religious symbolism, being a similar shape to a cross. Item 1. Priced at $100,000.
The second item in the catalogue is the one Martayan Lan describes as the first "acquirable, realistic printed map of the world." It is from the 1478 Roman Ptolemy. It provides a surprisingly realistic depiction of Europe, northern Africa, and eastern Asia. It is a map Columbus would have used, and it implied a smaller world, encouraging Columbus to believe the route to Asia heading west was far shorter than it is. $175,000.
The changes displayed in item 3 are subtle, yet enormously important. This is taken from the 1482 edition of Cosmographi Geographia. It is the first map to show the earliest knowledge gained during the Age of Discovery. There was no New World yet, no Columbus. However, what has been incorporated is knowledge gained from early Portuguese explorations off the west coast of Africa. The Portuguese had discovered the Cape Verde and other islands, and this map also shows the newly acquired knowledge that the coastline of Africa turned to a southeasterly direction as one headed farther south. Prior maps had cut off the continent before ever reaching that point. $65,000.
Item 5 is far more than a map. It is an account of the world from Creation through its time of publication - 1493. This is Hartmann Schedel's Nuremberg Chronicle, an amazingly thorough history of the world for its time. From a cartographic standpoint, it offers the last of the maps of the pre-Columbian world, that is, a world map without the New World. $225,000.
Very Early Maps from Martayan Lan
On the Ruysch map, South America is separate, but North America and Asia are one.
Once Columbus returned, the world was forever changed. Item 7 is described by Martayan Lan as "the earliest acquirable map to show America." It was produced by Johann Ruysch in 1507, the same year as the famous Waldseemuller map, the one to first include the name "America." This map displays a rather massive South American continent, recognizing better than the Waldseemuller just how large South America is. However, when you head north, you begin to see real confusion by the mapmaker, still believing the world to be much smaller than it actually is. The result is that North America appears to be a continuation of Asia. Newfoundland, which Ruysch may have visited, is off the Asian coast, while Japan is close to the island of Hispaniola. Ruysch has added many place names, including a first on South America for "R.DE.BRASI.L." This was also the first printed map produced by someone who had actually visited the New World. Price on Request.
Item 10 is the first obtainable map to list the name of America. This is the 1520 version of the Waldseemuller map. It was produced by Petrus Apianus, and is not quite identical to the 1507 Waldseemuller as it has greatly expanded the view of South America, now displayed in its entirety. The 1507 is known in only one copy, while no other map until Apianus named "America," hence its being the first obtainable. $125,000.
You can reach Martayan Lan at 212-308-0018 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.martayanlan.com.