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Description

Fine example of the true first state of Mercator's map of the World, first printed in Geneva in 1587.

This is earliest state of Mercator's map, with 3 lines of text below the words Lectori, S.P. Later editions include different text settings and, with first edition of Mercator's Atlas in 1595, the text would be removed. The map is readily distinguishable from the editions of 1595 and after, which include a crack in the copperplate, between the R's in the word "Terrae" in the title.

This is the only obtainable world map by Gerard Mercator, the greatest geographer of his era. Both his 1538 and 1569 world maps are unapproachable rarities.

The present work is a reduced version of the 1569 wall map of the world, on which the revolutionary Mercator Projection was introduced. Oddly, this folio version recast the map into a double-hemisphere format and did not employ the Mercator Projection. Gerhard Mercator died in 1594, the year before his first world atlas was published. It would be several decades before a world map on his Mercator's projection would appear in a commercial atlas. This fine piece of engraving, with elegant, strapwork ornamentation, of what was certainly the most important world map of the late 16th Century.

While later editions appear on the market with some frequency, true first state of the first edition is now very rare on the market, this being the first example we have ever offered.

Reference
Shirley 157.
Gerard Mercator Biography

Gerard Mercator is one of the most famous cartographers of all time. Mercator was born in Flanders and educated at the Catholic University in Leuven. After his graduation in 1532, Mercator worked with Gemma Frisius, a prominent mathematician, and Gaspar a Myrica, a goldsmith and engraver. Together, these men produced globes and scientific instruments, allowing Mercator to hone his skills.

With his wife, Barbara, Mercator had six children: Arnold, Emerentia, Dorothes, Bartholomeus, Rumold, and Catharina.  In 1552, Mercator moved to Duisburg from Leuven, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1564, he was appointed the official cosmographer to the court of Duke Wilhelm of Cleve.

Mercator’s most important contribution was the creation and popularization of a projection which now bears his name. On Mercator projection maps, all parallels and meridians are drawn at right angles to each other, with the distance between the parallels extending towards the poles. This allowed for accurate latitude and longitude calculation and also allowed navigational routes to be drawn using straight lines, a huge advantage for sailors as this allowed them to plot courses without constant recourse to adjusting compass readings.

Mercator’s other enduring contribution to cartography is the term “atlas”, which was first used to describe his collection of maps gathered in one volume. The Mercator atlas was published in 1595, a year after Mercator’s death, thanks to the work of his sons, particularly Rumold, and his grandsons.