One of the Earliest Obtainable Maps of the British Isles
Nice example of Martin Waldseemuller's map of the British Isles, from the 1520 edition of Waldseemuller's Geographie Opus Novissima.
The map famously shows Ptolemy's depiction of the British Isles (considered the 'edge of the world' in Ptolemy's time), with an elongated Scotland on an east-west orientation. The southwestern portion of England (Cornwall) also appears elongated. Ireland, located too far north, also shows an elongated south-west.
Martin Waldseemüller, a highly accomplished scholar of geography, merged the science of mapmaking and the art of printing in his Geographia (published in 1513 and 1520), one of the most groundbreaking documents in the history of cartography. He intended this atlas as a new edition of Ptolemy's Geographia, but included the addition of 20 modern maps which were not based upon the tradition of Ptolemy. Waldseemuller's use of a quadratic plane projection, was also a noteworthy advance.
Martin Waldseemüller (1470-1520) was born in Wolfenweiler and studied at the University of Freiburg. On April 25, 1507, as a member of the Gymnasium Vosagense at Saint Diey in the duchy of Lorraine, he produced a globular world map and a large 12-panel world wall map ( Universalis Cosmographia) both bearing the first use of the name "America". The globular and wall maps were accompanied by a book Cosmographiae Introductio, an introduction to cosmography. The book, first printed in the city of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, includes in its second part, a translation to Latin of the Quattuor Americi Vespuccij navigationes (Four Voyages of Americo Vespucci), which is apparently a letter written by Amerigo Vespucci, although some historians consider it to have been a forgery written by its supposed recipient in Italy. In chapter nine of the first part of the Cosmographiae Introductio, written by Mat(t)hias Ringmann, it is explained why the name America was proposed for the then New World.
In 1513 Waldseemüller appears to have had second thoughts about the name, probably due to contemporary protests about Vespucci's role in the discovery and naming of America, or just carefully waiting for the official discovery of the whole northwestern coast of what is now called North America, as separated from East Asia. In his Geographia, the continent is labelled simply Terra Incognita (unknown land). Despite the revision, 1,000 copies of the world maps had since been distributed, and the original suggestion took hold. While North America was still called Indies in documents for some time, it was eventually called America as well.
Martin Waldseemüller (c. 1475-1520) was a sixteenth-century cosmographer best known for his 1507 world map in twelve sheets, the earliest surviving map to include the name “America.” He was an influential mapmaker during his time whose work affected many of his contemporaries and successors. Waldseemüller was born near Freiburg, in what is now southwestern Germany. His family moved to Freiburg proper when he was young and he attended university in the city beginning in 1490.
Waldseemüller gathered information about the New World discoveries and geography from St.-Dié des Vosges in Lorraine, where he was a professor of cosmography under the patronage of René II, Duke of Lorraine. He was a member of an intellectual circle who produced work from the St.-Dié Press. However, the press failed when the Duke died, and Waldseemüller moved to Strasbourg.
He is best known for the 1507 map and another world projection, the Carta Marina published in 1516. He also published an edition of Ptolemy in 1513, in collaboration with Johann Schott, a friend from Freiburg and St.-Dié. Besides his innovative use of the toponym “America”, Waldseemüller was the first to create such a large printed world map, the author of the earliest known printed globe gores, the first to create a published collection of modern maps, and one of the first to create maps from ground measurements. He was knowledgeable in surveying methods and designed a quadrant and other instruments. He returned to St.-Dié late in life as canon, although he continued to return to Strasbourg for work and for carnival. He died in St.-Dié in 1520.
Waldseemuller is generally credited with having named the continent of America, based upon the then current belief that Amerigo Vespucci had been the first modern explorer to reach the continent of America in 1497, during the first of four expeditions to America which were then credited to Vespucci between 1497 and 1504. The report which described the 1497 expedition is now generally believed to be a forgery. Later in his career, Waldseemüller elected not to use the toponym for the continents, preferring to leave them unnamed. However, the name had been taken up by his contemporaries, in large part due to the influential nature of Waldseemüller’s earlier works.