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Stock# 100234

Including the Frisius-Apian World Map

With Important American Content by Lopez de Gomara

And Annotations in an Early Spanish Hand

Rare Spanish edition of Peter Apian's Cosmographia, first published in 1524. One of two editions published in 1575, the present example is by Juan Withagio, the other by Juan Beller (Bellero).

In addition to the wonderful woodcuts throughout and the Frisius-Apiran world map, this Spanish edition is notable for American content:

  • Lopez de Gomara. El sitio descripcion delas Indias y Mundo nuevo sacada de la Istoria de las Indias escrita por el Doctor Francisco Lopez de Gomara (leaves T4v-Y2v).
  • Folio 34 contains the " Account of America " by Apianus.
  • Folio 52 contains the " description of America and its Islands."
  • The final 19 pages contain El Sitio y Descripcion delas Indias o Mundo nuevo, sacada del libro de Cosmographia del S. Ieronymo Giraua Tarragonez (i.e. The Situation and Description of the Indies and the New World taken from the Cosmography of S. Jeronymo Girava Tarragonez). This is divided into separate sections: Tierra del Labrador; Tierra de Baccallaos; Florida; Nueva España; Peru; etc., and a table of various American towns and cities.

This book includes Gemma’s description of how triangulation is used in surveying and mapping first published in 1533: “the first to propose - and illustrate - the principle of triangulation as a means of carefully locating places and accurately mapping areas.”

Important Early World Map

Apian's 1524 Cosmographia was his greatest work, not least of which for the inclusion of his map of the world. It was a wide-ranging treatise on astronomy, geography, cartography, navigation, and instrument-making. This knowledge was eagerly sought-after and resulted in many subsequent editions after 1544. The present work relates much of the work available in Apian's first edition of 1524, including its fantastic woodblock illustrations of armillary spheres, astronomical phenomena, and world maps.

The primary double-page world map included in this work is Shirley 82 (block 2), with the title and outer text about the winds in Latin and Dutch. As Shirley describes a 1575 issue of the map with text in Spanish and Italian (stating that "the various editions and outer text listing the winds are in the language of the edition concerned"), it is likely the present map was supplied from another edition of the Cosmographia, perhaps one of the Antwerp editions of 1553, 1561 or 1564. 

PETER APIAN'S Cosmographia, first published in 1524, was republished many times throughout the sixteenth century. From 1544 onwards most of the editions contain a truncated cordiform world map which is reportedly based on the larger map of the world prepared by Gemma Frisius and published from Louvain in 1540, but which has now been lost.

How faithful this smaller woodcut version is to the lost original it is not possible to determine. The continents are broadly presented as in the globe gores for Mercator's globe of 1541 but North America (labelled Baccalearium in reference to the cod fishing nearby) has shrunk to a slender peninsula lying almost east-west. There are relatively few geographic features; instead there are a number of small drawings of animals and ships, and even a mermaid. Frisius' 1540 map is said to have been dedicated to the Emperor Charles V; in this 1544 copy one of the deistic personages at the head of the map has as a design on his breastplate the Holy Roman Emperor's double eagle. The heart-shaped border of the map contains signs of the zodiac, and the outer surround is filled with clouds and winds, including three cadaverous windheads representing the traditional plague-carrying winds of the south.

The map is one of the earliest obtainable world maps, not based on the works of Ptolemy. North America is depicted as a narrow stretch of land extending almost eastwards. Cuba and Hispaniola are shown as huge islands, and the Mountains of the Moon are considered the source of the River Nile. The map includes a Northwest Passage, above which is a fascinating projection of Asia. North America is called "Baccalearum" for its cod fisheries. The narrow Straits of Magellan represent the only passage between South America and an understated Terra Australis. The "truncated" cordiform projection used prevents the south polar regions from being more fully represented. 


This example was given to the Capuchin Convent of Deusto (Bilbao) by Monsieur Tillet, possibly the noted French botanist scientist, Mathieu Tillet (1714–1791), or his father Gabriel Tillet, a goldsmith. An 18th-century inscription records the gift, styling Tillet as a celebrated mathematician:

Este libro tan especial, lo dio con otros para el Convento de Capuchinos de Deusto Monsieur Tillet, Mathematico celebre.


Condition Description
Small quarto. 18th-century full tree calf. Leather spine label (a bit faded), red edges. Some moderate wear to binding extremities, mainly corners and along outer back joint. Marbled endpapers. Title page with two repairs without loss to printed area, extreme edge of upper margin also repaired. Some moderate old dampstaining. [2], 68, [13] numbered leaves. Woodcut title vignette of globe (which woodcut is repeated at Glv), double-page woodcut World Map at L1, numerous astronomical and geographical woodcut diagrams in the text, those at C2v, D1v, I1v and P3r with volvelles (moving parts supplied in expert facsimile), lacks volvelle on C3v. Leaf Gii numbered 25 instead of 24, leaf signed M3 numbered 31 instead of 41, quire K omitted (as issued, with the world map bound instead of a signature K). Some early Spanish marginalia (including inscription on verso of title and notes on final blank page, i.e. leaf Y4v). A nice copy withal, with the important map and textually complete.
European Americana 575/3. Sabin 1756. Van Ortroy (Apian) 56. Medina (BHA) 239. Peeters-Fontainas 63. JCB I, pp. 256-257. Palau 13809. Shirley 82 & 96. Maggs, Bibliotheca Americana et Philippina Part IV, Cat. No. 465:2638.