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Visually Striking Double Hemisphere Map of the World

Fine example of Adam Freidrich Zürner's complex and informative double hemisphere map of the world, artfully embellished with a multitude of decorative scenes and projections of celestial bodies.

Its striking visual elements are accompanied by Latin text on astronomical theories, explanations of natural phenomena, and information on the routes and discoveries of such famous explorers as Abel Tasman and Ferdinand Magellan.

Zürner’s fine work is known to have been published by Peter Schenk, appearing in Schenk’s Atlas Contractus from ca. 1700. This map has also been located in the contemporary atlases of R. and I. Ottens and may have been published separately as well. While Zürner himself is relatively unknown, this attractive map is a testament to his talent.

At top, an attractive, stylized banner includes the map’s title and authorship information in both Latin and Dutch. Schenk is referenced as this map’s publisher at far left, with A.F. Zürner noted as the map creator in the title text.

Latitude and longitude are clearly marked on this map, encircling each hemisphere. The map portrays both the celestial equator and the ecliptic. The ecliptic is annotated with the zodiac. The tropics, equator, and ecliptic are shown as thick lines placed atop this map’s geographic elements, instead of underneath like the rest of the graticule, which visually denotes their importance. The full extent of the world is portrayed on this map, and it is well updated for its time.

The 32-point compass rose, located at the bottom of the eastern hemisphere, notes eight main cardinal directions named in the classical tradition after the ancient Greek gods of the winds. The Latin names for these classical compass winds are accompanied by their modern Dutch terms (Septentrio: Nord, Zephirus: West, etc.). Surrounding the map are wind directions as well as brief notes on climate zones dictated by degrees latitude, such as “Zona Frigida” near the poles.

Along the map border, circular diagrams show astronomical teachings and various hemispherical views of the globe. The majority of the astronomical diagrams are included at bottom, with the hemispherical views included at top. The astronomical diagrams cover various subjects, including lunar and solar eclipses, planetary size and order, lunar phases, and the hypotheses of Tycho Brahe, Nicolaus Copernicus, and Claudius Ptolemy. The views of the globe include polar views as well as views of the Old World and New World. The southern polar view provides an excellent overview of what had been discovered of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.

The two largest circular diagrams, at top and bottom center of this map, depict the celestial sky from both northern and southern hemisphere perspectives. These double celestial hemispheres are an engaging complement to the geographic double hemispheres and provide nice visual balance for the map layout. The level of detail included in all of the various border diagrams and accompanying annotations is considerable.

Along the bottom edge is a stunning panorama illustrating volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tides, vortices, wind, rain and rainbows. Mount Etna can be seen at far left, a reference to the devastating 1669 eruption which destroyed a number of Sicilian villages and part of the town of Catania, labeled in the foreground. The illustration segues seamlessly between illustrations of each natural phenomenon, providing a lovely backdrop for the lower portion of the map. Below the panorama is a section of textual commentary on all the natural phenomena illustrated.

The routes and discoveries of famous explorers such as Magellan, Dampier, Tasman, Gaetani and Chaumont are depicted on this map, as well as short annotations that reference other explorations.

Explorations in the Pacific

The geography of Oceania depicted on this map evidences all of the recent discoveries in the region. This map may notably be one of the first to correctly depict New Britain (Nova Brittania) off the northeastern coast of New Guinea. The accompanying annotation attributes its discovery to Dampier in 1700. Dampier, an English naturalist and pirate/buccaneer, was the first person to circumnavigate the globe three times.

Most of the coast of Australia (Nova Hollandia), part of Tasmania ([Van] Diemans Land), and the western coast of New Zealand (Nova Zeelandia). These stem from two voyages (1642-44) of Abel Tasman for the Dutch East India Company (VOC); the 1642 route of Tasman can be clearly seen along the Tasmanian coast and traveling across to New Zealand, a major source of information for this map.  

Anumber of areas within Australia are named and dated, such as Terra de Lewin (“detected 1621”) and Terra Concordiae (“detected [circa] 1616”). Carpentaria also contains a number of place names, further evidence of ongoing exploration in the region. These all reflect early Dutch interactions with the Australian coast. Terra de Lewin is named for the Leeuwin, for example, whose crew charted some of the southwest coastline on a voyage in 1622, not 1621 as noted here.

The northern Pacific also includes interesting geographic elements, reflective of information gleaned from the 1643 voyage of Maarten Gerritsz de Vries, a Dutch explorer for the VOC. De Vries is credited with charting islands and promontories north of Japan, which were then believed to be part of America. On the map, Hokkaido is clearly labeled as “Terra Iedso” and Iturup and Urup in the Kuril Islands are labeled “Staaten Eyl.” and “Compagnie Land”, respectively. The De Vries Strait can be seen labeled between these islands. De Vries, searching for a mythical land of riches east of Asia, claimed these islands for the VOC. The eastern side of “Compagnie Land” is not shown, indicating the belief that it could be connected to a mainland, possibly the Americas.

Mythical and chimerical features

Parts of this map reference a number of popular legendary lands, including Terra Esonis (also known as Gamaland), an insular California alongside Sir Francis Drake’s Nova Albion, conjectures on Terra Australis Incognita, as well as several phantom islands reported by historical explorers.

In the south of the western hemisphere, Zürner labels a geographically undefined “Regiones Australis Necdum Cognitae” (Australian region not yet known), stretching from approximately New Zealand to east of Tierra del Fuego. A similar, textual nod to the “Terra Australis Incognita” of Ptolemaic fame is also included on the eastern hemisphere side, below a substantial annotation to the reader. Below the Straits of Magellan, just southwest of Tierra del Fuego, a mythical land reportedly seen by Sir Francis Drake during his passage to the Pacific is shown.

While the map does include these fabled place names, the lack of a geographic boundary makes them more amorphous to viewers than depictions on previous maps. Created at a time when European expeditions were beginning to disprove the legend of a massive, unknown southern continent, this map is part of a major shift in cartographic representations of the southern hemisphere.

Although the phantom island known as Friesland is depicted on this map, located south of Iceland, Zürner does not seem to support its existence. He includes the annotation “vel fabulosa vel submerse” (either fabled or submerged), communicating that although it is drawn on the map, it may not exist. This short, critical annotation is an interesting invitation to question what is reported, an indicator of the overall changing ideology of contemporary cartography to depict the world as it had been proven and observed.

Saxemberg Island, just east of Uruguay, is noted on this map as having been detected by Dutch sea captain Lindeman in 1670. Although eventually disproven to exist, Saxemberg Island can be seen on maps throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Looking west, Terra Esonis is portrayed as a large swath of land stretching uninterrupted between North America and Asia. The fainter shading of this landmass serves to indicate its questioned existence. The annotation below Terra Esonis notes that its coast was described by Portuguese explorer João da Gama. Da Gama’s claim of an uninterrupted coast northeast of Japan intrigued cartographers long after his death in ca. 1592, as evidenced by this map created a century later. The conception of Terra Esonis may also point to some knowledge of the Aleutian Islands prior to documented exploration.

As far as evidence of the fabled Northwest Passage linking Europe to Asia above or across North America, this map portrays the “Fretum Anian” (Straits of Anian) separating Terra Esonis and Nova Albion and California, but it does not depict where the straits lead. The Straits of Anian were believed to mark the separation between Asia and North America, which would be disproven in the mid-eighteenth century with the discovery of the Bering Strait.

Interestingly, while California is depicted as an island (a widespread belief among Europeans from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries), the way it is drawn suggests Zürner may also not have believed in an insular California. The northern coasts of Nova Mexico and California (labeled Nova Albion in reference to Sir Francis Drake’s claim) are missing the thicker outline included around other known lands on this map, matching the sketch-like quality of Terra Esonis. This may suggest early knowledge of Father Eusebio Kino’s observations disproving the myth of California as an island.

This double hemisphere world map is visually stunning and abounds with engaging information. Zürner's superior attention to geographic detail and masterful embellishments of natural and celestial elements make this map a striking addition to any collection.

Condition Description
Old Color. Minor toning.
“Mount Etna” in Encyclopedia Brittanica, accessed Aug 30, 2019,; John Leighly, California as an Island: An Illustrated Essay (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1972); Glen McLaughlin with Nancy H. Mayo, “The Mapping of California as an Island: An Illustrated Checklist,” California Map Society Occasional Papers, 5 (1995); Dora Beale Polk, The Island of California: A History of the Myth (Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1991); Seymour I. Schwartz with Ralph E. Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, (Edison, N.J.: Wellfleet, 2001); Rodney W. Shirley, The Mapping of the World: Early Printed World Maps, 1472-1700, 4th ed (Riverside, CT: Early World Press, 2001): map 639; Lawrence C. Wroth, "The Early Cartography Of The Pacific," The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 38 (1944): 87. ACA.
Adam Friedrich Zurner Biography

Adam Friedrich Zürner (15 August 1679 – 18 December 1742) was a German Protestant priest, cartographer and the head of construction of the Kursächsische Postmeilensäulen in Saxony.

Zurner's first project of note was a map of Saxony, for which he was retained by August III, King of Poland, in 1711.  

Zurner was appointed Geographer of Poland and the Electorate of Saxony, a position in which he served until 1732.  In this time period, he reportedly traveled nearly 18,000 miles and created over 900 maps.

In 1721, he was tasked with establishing a postal road system in Saxony and marking the distances with stone posts.  

His work resulted in the Atlas Augusteus Sauronicus (40 maps plus key sheet), which remained incomplete until after Zurner's death, but was ultimately sold to Pieter Schenk in Amsterdam in about 1745.  Schenk's completed work (49 maps, published in Amsterdam and Leipzig) was issued without reference to Zurner's name, under the title Atlas Saxonicus.

Despite his prolific work product, none of Zurner's original manuscript maps seem to survive.