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The Mapping of North America

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MUNSTER, Sebastian

Cosmographiae universalis Lib. VI. in quibus iuxta certioris sidei scriptorum traditionem describuntur

Heinrich Petri, Basle, 1550
Folio (325 x 220 mm.), old full mottled calf, rebacked ribbed spine perhaps preserving the original spine, ornate gilt floral designs to compartments, with gilt calf title label, red edged, marbled endpapers. Woodcut historiated border to title page with woodcut portrait of Münster on verso, with 14 double-page woodcut maps, 41 double-page town views, including 3 full folding panorama views, approximately 970 woodcut text illustrations, including approximately 75 views and plans, of which about 10 full-page, pp. (10), (12), 1162, (2), Roman and italic types, Prester John’s account in Hebrew on penultimate leaf with printer’s device to verso. Six leaves of contents misbound following world maps, small hole to folding view of Vienna, a few short tears at creasefolds on folding views, occasional light browning, first and last few leaves with light water stain, otherwise a good example.
FIRST LATIN EDITION and the FIRST TO CONTAIN THE TOWN VIEWS. The ‘Cosmographia’ is the most famous work of the renowned geographer, cosmographer, mathematician and humanist Sebastian Münster (1488-1552). He was also a professor at Basle University. This work was first published in German as the ‘Cosmographia Universalis’ in 1544. This encyclopaedic work is the first scientific compendium of the knowledge of the day including astronomy, geography, history and natural sciences. It consists of six books the first of which describes geography and astronomy using many illustrations. The remaining books describe the regions of the world: Southern and Western Europe, Germany, Northern and Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

The first editions were all in German and published in 1544, 1546, 1548 and 1550. It was due to the great demand abroad that Münster published this extremely rare Latin edition. Bonifacius Amerbach, Sigismondo Arquer, Petrus Artopoeus and François Bonivard are among the co-authors. This Latin edition and the German edition, both published in the same year by Münster’s son-in-law Heinrich Petri, were the first of Münster’s works to contain town views. It was published shortly before his death in 1552.

Much of its success was due to the fascinating woodcuts many of which are by Hans Holbein the Younger, Albrecht Dürer, Urs Graf, Hans Rudolph Manuel Deutsch, and David Kandel. Along with Abraham Ortelius 30 years later he was one of the first publishers to identify his sources and authorities. Notable maps include the modern world map ‘Typus Orbis Universalis,’ by David Kandel whose initials are lower left and which first appeared in this edition and the important map of America. His maps were not superseded for influence until those of Ortelius.

Provenance: semi-erased inscription on recto of title seemingly connected with the erasure of large inscriptions on p1, B2, B7, X4, Y1, Kk4, Kk6, Mm1, Vv3, GG1, NN2 and smaller erasures on several other leaves – early ink marginalia – ink inscription dated 1768 on verso of title recording ownership of a house of the Pauline Fathers under the priorship of Bartholomaeus Orlaus; University of Hungary (stamp on verso of title with duplicate sale stamp); Giancarlo Beltrame Collection, Vicenza, Italy. Adams M-1908; Alden and Landis 550/27; Burden 12-13; Burmeister 87; Karrow 58Va; Ruland (1962); Sabin 51379; Shirley World 76 & 92; Shirley T.Mun-1c; USTC 625628.
Stock number: 9041

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