Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 76 33 13

FIRST EDITION. There were two editions of this scarce book by Franciscus Monachus (or Smunck), neither of them dated. However, because the text refers to the discovery of land in the South Atlantic in 1526 one can assume a probable date of 1527. The only difference between the issues is the presence of the letterpress title above the map; on the first (according to Harrisse) it is present as here, and is lacking in the second. The latter issue provides us with more information about the publication date. Harrisse records that two examples of it have been found bound with the Appendi by Joannes Schöner dated 1527, one of the greatest geographers and mathematicians of his day. The book was written as an explanation of a globe published in 1523 by Schöner, no example of which has survived. Franciscus Monachus, a Franciscan monk whose real name appears to have been Francois Le Moyne, is said to have originated from Malines. This work is a description addressed to the Archbishop of Palermo, describing the globe and some of its recent discoveries. He discusses some of the errors of earlier cartographers such as Ptolemy.

The map itself is from one woodblock of a pair depicting the world; they are the first that truly illustrate the world in two complete hemispheres. They are shown split according to the Treaty of Tordesillas, dividing the non-Christian world into the Spanish and Portuguese spheres of influence. Across the South Pole is one of the earliest known depictions of the unknown southern continent. America is shown connected to Asia, with some confusion caused by the nomenclature. GALLIA is in fact MON GALLIA or Mongolia, the first part shown on the eastern hemisphere. Even BERGIA is derived from Marco Polo; TAMAGO, however, relates to Mexico (see Harrisse). This is the first printed map to show with some recognition an easterly inclined Atlantic coast of North America. The name AMERICA appears in the southern half of the continent. It is probably the earliest to display knowledge of Ferdinand Magellan’s epic first circumnavigation of the globe, 1519-22, by showing a clearly recognisable strait at the southern tip of America. The Yucatan is an island, and is placed at the entrance to a fictitious strait leading to the Pacific Ocean. The map includes one of the earliest references to a “Southern Continent”. There are just TWO RECORDED EXAMPLES of this work; the British Library and Jesus College, Cambridge. A fine example of the FIRST ISSUE. Burden (1996-2007) no. 7; Harrisse (1866) no. 131; Harrisse (1892) p. 548; Karrow (1993) pp. 407-9; Krogt (1993) pp. 41-7; The A. E. Nordenskiöld Collection, no. 963; Schilder (1976) p. 254; Shirley (1984) no. 57; Skelton (1960) p. 73 & fig. 45; Troeyer (1962) no. 17 pp. 96-105 & (1969-70) pp. 101-6.

MONACHUS, (Franciscus)

De Orbis Situ ac Descriptione

Antwerp, c.1527
THIS IS THE FIRST PRINTED MAP TO SHOW WITH SOME RECOGNITION AN EASTERLY INCLINED ATLANTIC COAST OF NORTH AMERICA. Small octavo (145 x 100 mm.), later eighteenth century half calf. With letterpress title, 16 leaves, with two woodcut maps (c.65 by 65 mm. each), full page woodcut device on the final leaf, title lightly soiled.
Stock number: 2303


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