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1520 Waldsseemuller Map of the British Isles

[Albion Insula Britanica] / [Tabiula Prima Europae]. - Main View

1520 Waldsseemuller Map of the British Isles


The first 'modern' map of the British Isles to be added to the Ptolemaic 'Geographia.'


[Albion Insula Britanica] / [Tabiula Prima Europae].
  1520 (undated)     17 x 23 in (43.18 x 58.42 cm)


One of the earliest obtainable printed maps of the British Isles, this rarity was issued by Martin Waldseemuller's in 1520. It is considered to be the first 'modern' map of the British Isles to be added to the Ptolemaic Geographia. Drawn within Ptolemaic trapezium, the map covers all of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales with parts of adjacent France. There is much of geographical interest, including the unusual elongated south-west and eastward orientation of Scotland. Ireland is situated too far north. There are scales of latitude and longitude for a trapezoid projection on the borders; graduated and labelled in degrees.

This map was first published in 1513 to accompany Waldseemüller's translation of Claudius Ptolemy's Geographia, titled Geographiae Opus Novissima. The work not only translated Ptolemy's Greek text, supplying the traditional Ptolemaic maps, but also expanded the coverage with several new 'modern' maps based upon manuscript portolan charts, including the present offering. Despite errors, such as the orientation of Scotland, Waldseemüller's map proved influential and was copied bother numerous subsequent cartographers.

The present map exists in two editions. The first edition, published in 1513, features a title above the top border, Tabula Prima Europae. The second edition, as here, lacks the title as well as printing on the seas. Furthermore, Germaniae Magna has been amended from Germaniae Magnae Pars and Oceanus Duecalledon has been changed from Oceanus Duecalledonius. This, the second edition, as offered here, is considered the rarer. It was subsequently copied with minor updates in a reduced 1522 format by Lorenz Fries.


Martin Waldseemüller (September 11, 1470 - March 16, 1520) was a German cartographer, astronomer, and mathematician credited with creating, along with Matthias Ringmann, the first map to use the placename America. He was born in Wolfenweiler, near Freiburg im Breisgau. Waldseemüller studied at the University of Freiburg and, on April 25, 1507, became a member of the Gymnasium Vosagese at Saint-Dié. Martin Waldseemüller was a major proponent of theoretical or additive cartography. Unlike contemporary Portuguese and Spanish cartographers, who left maps blank where knowledge was lacking, Waldseemüller and his peers speculated based upon geographical theories to fill unknown parts of the map. He is best known for his Universalis Cosmographia a massive 12-part wall map of the world considered the first map to contain the name America, today dubbed as 'America's Birth Certificate'. This map also had significance on other levels, as it combined two previously unassociated geographical styles: Ptolemaic Cartography, based on an ancient Greek model, and the emergent 'carta marina', a type of map commonly used by European mariners in the late 15th and 16th centuries. It also extended the traditional Ptolemaic model westward to include the newly discovered continent of America, which Waldseemüller named after the person he considered most influential in its discovery, Amerigo Vespucci. When Waldseemüller died in 1520, he was a canon of the collegiate Church of Saint-Dié. In contemporary references his name is often Latinized as Martinus Ilacomylus, Ilacomilus, or Hylacomylus. More by this mapmaker...


Ptolemy, C., Geographiae Opus Novissima, (Strasbourg: Waldseemüuller) 1520.    


Very good. Blank on verso.


OCLC 497430384.