1597 Ptolemy / Magini / Keschedt Map of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan

Tabula Asiae IX.

1597 Ptolemy / Magini / Keschedt Map of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan


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Tabula Asiae IX.
  1597 (undated)    5.5 x 7 in (13.97 x 17.78 cm)


A scarce and unusual 1597 Ptolemaic map of what constitutes modern day Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Presented on a trapezoidal projection with bold mountain ranges dividing the region. This map was engraved by G. Magini and G. Porro based upon the 1561 Valgrisi/Ruscelli edition of Ptolemy's Geography. Shortly after Magini issued his edition of the Geographiae in 1596, Petrus Keschedt, a German publisher operating out of Cologne, copied it and began issuing his own pirated editions. In November of 1597, no less a figure than Abraham Ortelius spotted the pirate. Ortelius informed Magini and, in the face of legal action, Keschedt stopped publishing the atlas until 1608, at which point he recut the plates and issued a new edition. The 1596 Magini edition of Ptolemy's Geographiae was the first small format edition of Mercator's Atlas.


Claudius Ptolemy (83 - 161 AD) is considered to be the father of cartography. A native of Alexandria living at the height of the Roman Empire, Ptolemy was renowned as a student of Astronomy and Geography. His work as an astronomer, as published in his Almagest, held considerable influence over western thought until Isaac Newton. His cartographic influence remains to this day. Ptolemy was the first to introduce projection techniques and to publish an atlas, the Geographiae. Ptolemy based his atlas on the "Geographiae" of Strabo, the cartographic materials assembled by Marinus of Tyre, and contemporary accounts provided by the many traders and navigators passing through Alexandria. Ptolemy's Geographiae was a ground breaking achievement far in advance of any known pre-existent cartography, however, it was not without flaws. In a masterstroke of ego that would last over 1,500 years, Ptolemy filled the many unknown and unexplored lands with mountains, lakes, and rivers that he merely assumed must exist. His other great error involved his use of the Cape Verde Islands as a Prime Meridian, thus wildly over estimating distances east of this point, and conversely underestimating the distances west. The ultimate result of this error was Columbus's fateful expedition to India in 1492. In any case, though the text of Ptolemy's Geographiae did survive, the maps that supposedly accompanied it did not. The earliest known Ptolemaic maps are in manuscript format and date to approximately 1300. Most of Ptolemaic maps that have come down to us today are based upon the 1477 Bologna edition of Ptolemy's Geographiae.

Giovanni Antonio Magini (June 13, 1555 – February 11, 1617) was an important 16th century map engraver, geographer, astrologer, astronomer and mathematician based in Bologna, Italy. Magini was born in Padua and studied philosophy in Bologna from 1579. He was a known correspondent of Ortelius, Mercator, Keppler, Brahe, and Galileo, among other Renaissance luminaries. In 1588 Magini was given was the chair of Mathematics at the Bologna University, a position for which he was given preference for over Galileo Galilei. There he developed his own geocentric planetary theory which he advocated in opposition to the propositions of Copernicus. Cartographically his most ambitious project was his Atlante geografico d'Italia  (Geographic Atlas of Italy), which was intended to include details maps of every Italian region with historical annotations. The project, the first national atlas of Italy, was innovative for its time. To raise money for the atlas, served the Gonzaga dukes of Mantua as judicial astrologer and as teacher of mathematics to the princes, for which he received roughly 400 ducats per year. Magini, unfortunately never saw the atlas published, as it was only issued posthumously by his son in 1620. He also issued multiple revised editions of Ptolemy's Geographiae. Magini died in Bologna in 1617.

Petrus Keschedt was a 16th century engraver and publisher based in Cologne, Germany. He is best known for his nefarious piracy of Giovanni Magini's 1596 issue of Ptoloemy's Geographiae.


Geographiae universae tum veteris tum novae absolutissimum opus duobus voluminibus distinctum, In quorum priore habentur Cl. Ptolomaei Pelusiensis Geographicae enarrationis Libri octo: Quorum primus, qui praecepta ipsius facultatis omnia complectitur, commentariis uberrimis illustratus est a Io. Antonio Magino Patavino. (1597 Keschedt edition)    


Good condition. Upper margin narrow, cutting slightly into title text, as issued.


Phillips, P.L. (Atlases) 405.