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Martin Waldseemuller
Strassburg, 1513

The Earliest Acquirable "Modern" Map of Africa north of the Equator:  Tabula Moderna Prime Partis Africae

Original woodblock printed map
Uncolored as issued
418 x 573mm (not including title above map)
Map # AAF-106  
$ Sold

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This is Martin Waldseemuller's important map of north Africa.  This is the earliest acquirable printed "modern" map of Africa north of the Equator.  Earlier printed maps of north Africa were based on the classical geography contained in Claudius Ptolemy's Geographia and appeared in Italy (Bologna, Florence, & Rome) from 1478 and in Germany (Ulm) from 1482. 

Martin Waldseemuller is most known today as the author of the famous 1507 wallmap of the world, Universalis Cosmographia..., the only known example of which was discovered in 1901 at Schloss Wolfegg and recently acquired by the Library of Congress.  (This wallmap is the first to identify the New World with the wording "America").

The map shows considerable detail along the coast of Africa, with numerous landfalls and sightings recorded by the Portuguese.  The interior is less detailed, with the identification of regions by name along with mountain ranges and other geographical entries.  The source of the Nile is identified as "paludes nili", an earlier reference to the twin lakes, which most people at the time thought comprised the Nile River.  Interestingly, the Niger River, flowing east to west on later maps, is not shown on this map.

The geography for the map is most directly taken from the Genoese, Nicolo de Caverio's (or Canerio), manuscript map of the world of 1502-06 (at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris), which in turn was based on an earlier Portuguese model.   Evidently, a copy of the Caverio map was passed to Waldseemuller and Ringmann by Duke Rene, who was the patron for the group of geographers working in St Die, France.  Though I have not yet been able to undertake a direct comparison of placenames on this map to those of Africa on Waldseemuller's 1507 wallmap, I believe there is close similarity.

The book, Ptolemy's Geographia, from which this map of northern Africa was taken was published by Johann Schott in Strassburg.  The book contained a number of "modern" maps, that is, maps based on an up-to-date knowledge of the world from the accounts of the explorers, and not only on a classical understanding of the world.  There was a re-printing of this book in 1520.

Though the book is dated 1513, it appears that Martin Waldseemuller and Mathias Ringmann were working on a new edition of the Geographia from 1507 (Skelton, p. V).  It is therefore likely that this map was prepared sometime before 1513 and only found its way to print in 1513.

References:    Betz, p. 55.  Claudius Ptolemaeus. Geographia., Strassburg, 1513.  with an introduction by R.A. Skelton.  Facsimile published by Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Ltd.  Amsterdam, 1966.

Fine condition.   At bottom centerfold, a filled wormhole.  At bottom left and right margins, some paper has been seamlessly added using a reintegration machine.  Manuscript page number "81" at upper right corner.  A beautiful map from the beginning of the "Age of Discovery" and a wonderful companion to Waldseemuller's map of the southern half of Africa, Map #AF-568.  These two Waldseemuller maps are seldom obtainable at the same time.

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