Photographic Facsimile of a Now-Lost Map of the New World, From the Collection of Edward Luther Stevenson.
An early photographic facsimile of the famed, and now-lost, Kunstmann III map of the New World.
Kunstmann III (Cod. 31-2) was one of at least three major maps that disappeared from the Armeebibliothek Munich in or around 1945. The other two maps were Kunstmann IV (Cod. 31-3) and the Munich Indian Ocean Portolan (Cod. 31-4).
This image of Kunstmann III is extremely important as it is likely the only good photograph of the map taken before its disappearance. As Kunstmann III was on of the earliest maps to show America (typically dated to circa 1506 or slightly later), this image is invaluable to scholars of the discovery of the New World.
The map derives its name from Kunstmann's early facsimile atlas Atlas zur Entdeckungsgeschichte Amerikas (1859), in which several important manuscript maps were reproduced as lithographs.
Edward Luther Stevenson was among the most important scholars of early cartography active at the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. He was responsible for numerous cartobibliographic books, including the first translation of Ptolemy to English, as well as a series of impressive facsimile maps produced while he was at the Hispanic Society of New York. Dr. Stevenson viewed facsimiles as integral to the study of early cartography, and he committed himself to building an unparalleled collection of photographs of early maps and globes. Much of his collection was donated to Yale University after his death (click on the title link above for about that), but the present item comes from a large collection of photos, manuscripts, and related material that were part of Stevenson's library, but were not donated to Yale. It is truly an impressive collection and many of the items, though reproductions, have serious antiquarian merit. As Alexander O. Vietor said about Stevenson collection that went to Yale "this is the stuff of which great libraries are made."