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1537 Sebastian Münster - Simon Grynaeus
Stock# 30390

Fine example of the first edition of Simon Grynaeus' map of the World, from the 1532 editon of Novus Orbis Regionum, which includes fine border illustrations engraved by Hans Holbein the Younger.

Ronald Shirley note:

No imprint appears on this large and decorative map . . .which was first printed in the 1532 edition of the Novus Orbis Regionum by Johann Huttich and Simon Grynaeus. Sebastian Munster contributed a long introduction Typi Cosmographici et Declarato et usus to their collection of voyages, and there have been arguments for and against his authorship of the accompanying map. It seems more probable that the map itself is Munster's whereas the decor is more frequently attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger . . .

Geographically the map . . . was probably prepared prior to 1532 based partly upon . . . the Schoner Globes, or on Apian's map of 1520. . . The projection follows the oval one of Bordone, with two cherubs energetically turning crank handles at the north and south poles.

The elaborate borders are enhanced with imaginary scenes of cannibals, winged serpents, elephants, and monsters; at both poles there appear winged angels turning the world on its axi s. The map is one of the most decorative and sought after of all early world maps which are reasonably obtainable to most collectors, owing to the tremendous success of the Huttich-Grynaeus text.

A fine example, with unusually wide clean margins.

Condition Description
Tiny repair tear at left margin, just next to the hand below the world Canibali.
Shirley 67.
Sebastian Münster Biography

Sebastian Münster (1488-1552) was a cosmographer and professor of Hebrew who taught at Tübingen, Heidelberg, and Basel. He settled in the latter in 1529 and died there, of plague, in 1552. As a young man, Münster joined the Franciscan order and studied philosophy in Heidelberg. He also studied geography and mathematics in Loewen, as well as Hebrew at Freiburg.

In 1512, he was ordained as a priest and taught philosophy and theology at Tübingen from 1514 to 1518. While in Tübingen, he also conducted further studies in geography. He moved to Basel in 1518 and published a Hebrew grammar, one of the first books in Hebrew published in Germany. In 1521 Münster moved again, back to Heidelberg, where he continued to publish Hebrew texts and the first German-produced books in Aramaic. After converting to Protestantism in 1529, he took over the chair of Hebrew at Basel, where he published his main Hebrew work, a two-volume Old Testament with a Latin translation.

Münster made himself the center of a large network of scholars from whom he obtained geographic descriptions, maps, and directions. He published his first known map, a map of Germany, in 1525. Three years later, he released a treatise on sundials.

In 1540, he published Geographia universalis vetus et nova, an updated edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia. In addition to the Ptolemaic maps, Münster added 21 modern maps. One of Münster’s innovations was to include one map for each continent, a concept that would influence Ortelius and other early atlas makers. The Geographia was reprinted in 1542, 1545, and 1552.  

Münster is best known today for his Cosmographia universalis, the first German-language description of the world. It was first published in 1554 and contained 471 woodcuts and 26 maps over 6 volumes. Many of the maps were taken from the Geographia and modified over time. It was released in at least 46 editions in 6 languages by 1650, with 21 German editions alone. The Cosmographia was widely used in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the text, woodcuts, and maps all influenced geographical thought for generations.