Where Waldseemüller’s Map Was Made

Writing for BBC Travel, Madhvi Ramani looks at where Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map of the world, famous for being the first map to name “America,” came to be: the church of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges. The collaboration there by Waldseemüller and Martin Ringmann is covered in detail by Toby Lester’s Fourth Part of the World, which Ramani refers to (and I review here), but this take is, well, shorter. [ICA]

Publishing pieces on the Waldseemüller map, often called “America’s birth certificate,” seems to be a thing that happens in early July: Voice of America did it in 2016. Can’t imagine why that might be.

Mercator Globes at the University of Lausanne

The University of Lausanne has come across a pair of globes—one celestial, one terrestrial—made by Mercator in the 16th century. Mercator apparently had a reputation as a globemaker, and a number of his globes are still in existence today. But “not particularly rare” is not the same as “not particularly  interesting,” and the globes, which first turned up on campus in 2004, are now the subject of an exhibition at the Espace Arlaud in Lausanne, which runs until 15 July, and an extensive and detailed website that talks about the globes and how they were discovered and authenticated. Digital versions of each globe have also been produced: here’s the terrestrial globe; here’s the celestial globe.

All of this, by the way, is in French. If reading French is not your thing, the Harvard Map Collection also has a pair of Mercator globes, which you can view via their (rather dated) website.

The Urbano Monte Map in 20 Different Projections

More on Urbano Monte’s 1587 world map, which, you may remember, the Rumsey Collection digitally assembled into a single map from 60 manuscript pages. Now Visionscarto has taken it a step further, with a web tool that reprojects a map into other projections, taking the map’s original polar azimuthal equidistant projection and transmogrifying it into 20 other projections. Yes, sure, the Mercator is one of them, but so are the Goode Homolosine, the Hammer—even the Dymaxion. The tool is available on both the Visioncarto and Rumsey Collection websites. [David Rumsey]

Previously: Urbano Monte’s 1587 World Map, Digitally AssembledVan Duzer Assesses Urbano Monte’s Work.

Van Duzer Assesses Urbano Monte’s Work

David Rumsey Map Collection

More on Urbano Monte’s 1587 world map, a copy of which the Rumsey Collection acquired last year (see previous entry). Chet Van Duzer presented his findings on the map and the mapmaker at Stanford last month, LiveScience reports. His conclusion? Monte was “both a mastermind and a copycat”—and not a very good artist, either. But the map is still very interesting. [WMS]

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]