First edition of this rare map of the world on a north polar Postel azimuthal projection with equidistant concentric circles of latitude and an important early map in the history of the mapping of Australia.
The map was first published in Louis de Mayerne Turquet's Discourse Sur la Carte Universelle..., published in Paris in 1648. In the book, Mayerne Turquet details numerous map projections, including projections by Gemma Frisius, Peter Kaerius, Abraham Ortelius and Guillaume Postel, among others. The map illustrates a projection that is his own invention, which Mayerne Turquet published as an attachment to Discourse. A second edition of the map was issued in 1661, with the original title erased (although still visible to the lower part of the map) and the addition of Antoine de Fer's imprint.
While the 2 editions of the map appear similar, there are a number of differences. In the first edition, the allegorical depictions of the 4 seasons are unnamed. In the second edition, each is named. The printer's address appears only on the first edition, near the top center of the map, whereas the second edition shows De Fer's name in the lower left section. The second edition adds a number of place names and new islands not shown on the first edition. The lower left cartouche is re-engraved in the second edition, and includes a different coat of arms.
Of perhaps greatest cartographic note, it is the second edition of this map that first includes the name "Nouvelle Hollande" in the Southern Continent, where only the name Beach appeared in the first edition. Other names added by Mayerne Turquette including Pais d' A Van Diemen, Terre de Wits, Willem R. and Terre de Leuwin, demonstrating that he was aware of the then current theory that Australia may have first been discovered by a Frenchman, Captain Binot Paulmyer de Gonneville, in 1504. This story had gained significant currency in the mid 17th Century in France and influenced the cartography of French Mapmakers for the next 100+ years.
An example of the 1st edition of the map can be seen here: /gallery/detail/18585
Mayerne Turquet's map shows the entire world in one circle, with inevitable distortions to the areas at the extreme radii. The geographical outline is simplified, with the borders of various countries shown, but only a few place names. Around the map are panels of text and personifications of the seasons. As Eyries states in Nouvelles Annales, II, "La projection en est très bizarre." The map is truly bizarre.
To produce a map of the world in a convenient way, cartographers use map projections: any transformation between the curved reference surface of the earth and the flat plane of the map. The transformation from the curved reference surface of the earth to the flat plane of the map is never completely successful. By flattening the curved surface of the sphere onto the map the curved surface is stretched in a non-uniform manner. The distortions increase as the distance from the central point of the projection increases. On a world map, the distortions are evident where landmasses are wrongly sized or out of shape and the meridians and parallels do not intersect at right angles or are not spaced uniformly.
The five common azimuthal (also known as Zenithal) projections are the Stereographic projection, the Orthographic projection, the Lambert azimuthal equal-area projection, the Gnomonic projection and the azimuthal equidistant or Postel projection, so named after Guillaume Postel's 1581 northern hemisphere map. The Postel projection style would become the standard for polar terrestrial maps for centuries.
The first cartographer to fashion a north polar azimuthal equidistant map of the entire world was Urbano Monte of Milan. Monte's map consisted of sixty-four sheets and was issued in 1603. Mayerne Turquet's work followed in 1648 and inspired others, including the highly influential work of Jean-Dominique Cassini, who produced a now lost world map on the floor of the Paris Observatory in the 1680s.