Urbano Monte’s 1587 World Map, Digitally Assembled

David Rumsey Map Collection

In the real world, Urbano Monte’s 1587 map of the world exists as a series of 60 manuscript sheets designed to be assembled into a large world map—one that would be, at 10 feet square, the largest early world map known to exist.1 As the David Rumsey Map Collection explains, “the whole map was to be stuck on a wooden panel 5 and a half brachia square (about ten feet) so that it could be revolved around a central pivot or pin through the north pole.”

But with only two copies known to exist, that ain’t happening. So what the Rumsey Collection has done, with the copy they recently acquired via Barry Ruderman, is to do it virtually, creating a digital edition of the map as a single image (see above). The digital Monte map was apparently revealed at the Ruderman Conference last October (previously).

The Rumsey Collection’s blog post has lots of images of the individual sheets, and explains how digitizing the map explains Monte’s choice of projection:

Monte wanted to show the entire earth as close as possible to a three-dimensional sphere using a two-dimensional surface. His projection does just that, notwithstanding the distortions around the south pole. Those same distortions exist in the Mercator’s world map, and by their outsized prominence on Monte’s map they gave him a vast area to indulge in all the speculations about Antarctica that proliferated in geographical descriptions in the 16th century. While Mercator’s projection became standard in years to come due to its ability to accurately measure distance and bearing, Monte’s polar projection gave a better view of the relationships of the continents and oceans.

The Mercator version of Monte’s map is here. A Google Earth KMZ file of the map as a digital globe is here. For background on Monte’s map, see the accompanying essay by Katherine Parker, “A Mind at Work” (PDF). For more coverage, see All Over the Map’s blog post.

Alex Clausen and the Fake Waldseemüller Globe Gores

It seems like everyone who evaluated the Waldseemüller globe gores is going to get a profile. The recently discovered gores were going to be auctioned by Christie’s last month until experts found evidence that they were carefully faked copies. That was, as I said at the time, a bombshell. Since then we’ve seen profiles of the experts at the James Bell Ford Library and Michal and Lindsay Peichl; now add to the list Alex Clausen, the gallery director of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps in La Jolla, California, whose work on the globe gores got profiled this week in the La Jolla Light. The article is a bit breathless in tone, but goes into much more detail than some of the others and is worth your time. Some key points:

  • Clausen guesses that the forgery was done in the 1940s or 1950s (“The prime forgery suspect is Carl Schweidler, whom Clausen calls ‘probably the best paper restorer of the 20th century.’”);
  • The reason why Christie’s was led astray was that one of the reference gores—the Bavarian State Library’s—was also a fake (that latter fact has already come out, but this article doesn’t gloss over its importance); and
  • Barry Ruderman, Clausen’s boss, guesses that this is only the tip of the forgery iceberg.

[Tony Campbell]

How Ptolemy’s Geography Helped Get a Man Burned at the Stake

Map of the Holy Land in Claudii Ptolemaei Alexandrini Geographicae enarrationis libri octo. Michael Servetus, 1535. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Last November the Library of Congress’s map blog, Worlds Revealed, published Cynthia Smith’s interesting piece on Michael Servetus, a Renaissance theologian who, in 1553, Calvin had burned at the stake, along with his books, for heresy. One of those books was a 1535 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography, and while that book was not one that got him into trouble in the first place, it was used against him at his trial.

A map of the Holy Land is shown on Plate 41, seen below, while the text on the verso, below the map, describes it as an “inhospitable and barren land,” which was considered by the religious authorities to be blasphemous. Servetus was arrested and underwent trial in Geneva for his other religious writings but this text was used as evidence at his trial. Calvin asserted that the text had contradicted the description of the Holy Land in the Book of Exodus as a “land flowing with milk and honey.” […] Ironically, the controversial passage was not original to Servetus but was simply copied by him from previous editions of Ptolemy’s Geography which were published in 1522 and 1525 by another physician named Laurent Fries.

[WMS]

The Texas Restorers Who Examined the Fake Globe Gores

Christie’s

Still more coverage of the cancelled auction of the Waldseemüller globe gores that were later identified as fakes, this time from the Houston Chronicle, which pursues the local-interest angle by talking to Michal and and Lindsay Peichl, restorers from Clear Lake, Texas (their firm is Paper Restoration Studio) who were brought in to examine the gores along with other experts. Michal says it didn’t take him long to figure it out:

“My first reaction when I saw the picture was, ‘Oh my God, this is a fake,'” said Michal. “You could tell this was a sheet of paper pulled from a book binding board.

“It was printed on a piece of paper that used to be glued on the back of book and that was a red flag to me because as a forger, if you want to make a fake, that’s where you would go to get a clean sheet of paper.”

[WMS]

Previously: How the James Ford Bell Library Fingered the Fake Waldseemüller Globe GoresWaldseemüller Auction Cancelled After Experts Suspect FakeryMore on the Waldseemüller Globe Gores AuctionSixth Waldseemüller Globe Gore to Be Auctioned Next Month.

How the James Ford Bell Library Fingered the Fake Waldseemüller Globe Gores

More on the cancelled auction of the Waldseemüller globe gores from Minneapolis-St. Paul TV station KARE, which looks at the work by the James Ford Bell Library that raised questions about the authenticity of the gores that Christie’s was set to auction last week. And a seriously buried lede: another set of Waldseemüller globe gores may not be authentic either: “During this process, experts also discovered that a copy at the Bavarian State Library in Germany may not be authentic, as well. Ragnow said that copy matches closely with the 2017 Christie’s one.” [WMS]

Previously: Waldseemüller Auction Cancelled After Experts Suspect FakeryMore on the Waldseemüller Globe Gores AuctionSixth Waldseemüller Globe Gore to Be Auctioned Next Month.

Waldseemüller Auction Cancelled After Experts Suspect Fakery

Christie’s

This is a bombshell. Christie’s has cancelled its upcoming auction of a (supposedly) newly discovered copy of Waldseemüller’s globe gores. Experts found evidence suggesting that the gores were a carefully faked copy of the gores found in the James Ford Bell Library. In today’s New York Times, Michael Blanding (who wrote a book on the Forbes Smiley affairhas the scoop on how the red flags were raised. The auction was supposed to take place on Wednesday; the gores were expected to fetch between £600,000 and £900,000.

Previously: More on the Waldseemüller Globe Gores AuctionSixth Waldseemüller Globe Gore to Be Auctioned Next Month.

More on the Waldseemüller Globe Gores Auction

Christie’s

When the news broke that Christie’s was auctioning a previously unknown copy of Waldseemüller’s globe gores—the sixth known to still exist—I wondered where it came from and how it was found. Christie’s has now posted an article about the globe gores that answers that question.

Waldseemüller’s set of gores was widely reproduced, yet the example to be offered at Christie’s on 13 December was never cut out—which largely explains why it has survived for hundreds of years. If it had been pasted as intended, Wilson says, ‘wear and tear would surely have seen its demise in the intervening centuries.’

Instead of being cut up, this particular map was used as scrap for bookbinding. It ended up among the belongings of the late British paper restorer Arthur Drescher, who died in 1986 and whose family recently came upon the piece.

Here’s the auction listing. The auction will take place on 13 December; the gores are expected to fetch between £600,000 and £900,000.

Previously: Sixth Waldseemüller Globe Gore to Be Auctioned Next Month.

Miniature Maps and Minchiate

The William P. Cumming Map Society’s North Carolina Map Blog has a post looking at miniature maps of North Carolina (“miniature” is defined as less than four inches in size) and a post about minchiate, a 16th-century Florentine card game; there were were educational minchiate decks with a map on each of the 97 cards. [WMS]

The Library of Congress Acquires the Codex Quetzalecatzin

Codex Quetzalecatzin, 1593. Manuscript map, 90 × 73 cm. Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress has acquired the Codex Quetzalecatzin, an extremely rare 1593 Mesoamerican indigenous manuscript that depicts, using Nahuatl hieroglyphics and pre-contact illustrative conventions as well as Latin characters, the lands and genealogy of the de Leon family. John Hessler’s blog post describes the codex and helps us understand its significance.

Like many Nahuatl codices and manuscript maps of the period it depicts a local community at an important point in their history. On the one hand, the map is a traditional Aztec cartographic history with its composition and design showing Nahuatl hieroglyphics, and typical illustrations. On the other hand, it also shows churches, some Spanish place names, and other images suggesting a community adapting to Spanish rule.  Maps and manuscripts of this kind would typically chart the community’s territory using hieroglyphic toponyms, with the community’s own place-name lying at or near the center. The present codex shows the de Leon family presiding over a large region of territory that extends from slightly north of  Mexico City, to just south of Puebla. Codices such as these are critical primary source documents, and for scholars looking into history and  ethnography during the earliest periods of contact between Europe and the peoples of the Americas,  they give important clues into how these very different cultures became integrated and adapted to each others presence.

The Codex has been in private hands for more than a century, but now that the Library of Congress has it, they’ve digitized it and made it available online. [Tony Campbell/Carla Hayden]

Sixth Waldseemüller Globe Gore to Be Auctioned Next Month

Martin Waldseemüller (Matthias Ringmann). Globe segments, ca. 1507. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.

AP reports that Christie’s will be auctioning “a previously unknown copy” of Martin Waldseemüller’s globe gores on 13 December. This would be the sixth known remaining copy of Waldseemüller’s gores, which were designed to form a small globe a few inches across when pasted onto a sphere. They’re a smaller, less-detailed version of Waldseemüller’s famous 1507 world map, and yes, the globe gores have “America” labelled as well.

No word yet on the provenance of this newly discovered sixth gore; the histories of the previous five are well known. The gores are expected to fetch between £600,000 and £900,000. [Tony Campbell]

Previously: Waldseemüller Globe Gore FoundMore About Waldseemüller.

Christopher Saxton Remembered in Leeds

Christopher Saxton, Atlas of the Counties of England and Wales, 1579. British Library.

The Yorkshire Society has erected a plaque in Tingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, to commemorate the 16th-century cartographer Christopher Saxton, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports. Saxton produced the first county maps of England and Wales; they were collected in his 1579 Atlas of the Counties of England and Wales. A major name in the history of British cartography (see this page about Saxton from the University of Glasgow Library), Saxton was born in West Yorkshire—thus the local interest. [WMS]

The Cantino Planisphere

Cantino Planisphere, ca. 1502. Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Modena, Italy. Wikimedia Commons.

Maps aren’t always named for their creators. The Gough map and the Selden map are named the people who owned them last before bequeathing them to the Bodleian Library. The Cantino planisphere, a Portuguese map of the world showing that country’s discoveries in the Americas and along the African coast, is named after the person who, ah, acquired it: in 1502 Alberto Cantino, undercover agent for the Duke of Ferrara, smuggled it out of Portugal, where maps were state secrets. Here’s an article about the Cantino planisphere from the March/April 2017 issue of National Geographic History magazine.

A Turkish Piri Reis Documentary Is Coming

A Turkish filmmaker is working on a documentary about the life of Ottoman admiral and mapmaker Piri Reis, whose 1513 portolan chart, a fragment of which was rediscovered in 1929, claimed to draw upon ancient and contemporary sources, including Columbus. According to the Doğan News Agency story, the 75-minute film “will feature dramatic reconstructions starring actor Mehmet Günsur as Piri Reis, Riccardo Scamarcio as Christopher Columbus and actress Deniz Özdoğan. Can Atill will reportedly compose the music for the film.” If you can read Turkish, the website of the filmmaker, Gülsah Çeliker, is here; the movie’s website is here. The documentary is supposed to be finished by the end of the year. [WMS]

Maggiolo Planisphere of 1531 to be Auctioned

Vesconte Maggiolo Planiphere of 1531. Daniel Crouch Rare Books.
Vesconte Maggiolo Planiphere of 1531. Daniel Crouch Rare Books.

A 16th-century portolan chart is being auctioned later this month at TEFAF New York. “The map, which was created by a Genoese cartographer named Vesconte Maggiolo in 1531, is one of the first depictions of America’s eastern seaboard. It’s also the first (extant) map, ever, to show New York harbor,” Bloomberg’s James Tarmy writes. The asking price is $10 million—which would tie it with the Library of Congress’s copy of the Waldseemüller map as the most expensive map ever. The seller, Daniel Crouch Rare Books, has produced a detailed, lavishly illustrated 56-page booklet befitting a map with an eight-figure asking price. [WMS]

New Website About the 1507 Waldseemüller Map

waldseemuller

A Land Beyond the Stars is a major new website dedicated to Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 world map. Announced last week, it’s a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the Galileo Museum in Florence, Italy; the latter institution is responsible for the multimedia presentation.

[The website] brings the map’s wealth of historical, technical, scientific and geographic data to a broader public. Interactive videos explain the sciences of cartography and astronomy and the state of navigational and geographic knowledge during the time of Waldseemüller. Developed with materials from the Library of Congress and other libraries around the world, the name of the website stems from Waldseemüller’s use of a passage from Roman poet Virgil, which can be found in the upper left corner of the 1507 map.

[ResearchBuzz/WMS]