July 09, 2009

The Waldseemüller Map.

Last week, the lovely Gal Friday had a very interesting post about maps. This reminded me of one of the greatest and most interesting world maps, the Waldseemüller map.

I first became aware of its existence upon watching a documentary and I was immediately intrigued. I guess not many know that it clearly, for the first time ever, mentions America by name.

It was created by two young men, one of them being the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller and was originally published in April 1507, carrying the name: "Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque lustrationes". As palpable from this extended title, the new continent was named in honour of Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer, navigator and cartographer.

The map is fascinating due to two details; for the first time in history, it names a thin land line in the west as America, and it shows the Pacific Ocean. This means, that in the time when the world in error believed that Christopher Columbus has found a way to Asia, Waldseemüller, according to Vespucci, correctly assumed that a new continent has been discovered. This clarifies particularly the second enigmatic feature of the map; a new continent meant that it had to be separated from Asia by an ocean. Thus, Waldseemüller used his intuition at the time of the map creation, as by then no Westerner has seen the west coast of America. However, this has nevertheless raised speculations concerning the fact that Waldseemüller possibly could have known about the Pacific from other maps, drawn by unknown explores.

About 1000 copies of the wall map existed at one time. Today only one remains. It was discovered in 1901 at the Wolfegg Castle in Württemberg, Germany. In 2001, this last copy was purchased by the united States Library of Congress, for 10 million dollars, where it is kept on display today.

18 comments :

Jacki said...

I have seen it. :-) It's very cool. For some reason I am fascinated with old maps, too. I guess it's because it impresses me that they were able to draw such detailed maps without the benefit of satellite images.

Betsy said...

I agree with Jacki...they did pretty well without the benefit of an aerial view and only ships to take them! It's beautiful, too!

bb mcclain said...

I've never seen the Southern Cross since I live in the Northern Hemisphere...maybe one day.

Valentine said...

Why arent modern maps as beautiful and artistic as the old one? Sigh. I just love all the little symbols on it..

ps

I learn new things everytime I visit your blog, Ms. Z.. hehe..

xx

V

Claus said...

What an interesting entry! I love world maps, and have a small collection of globes, having the goal of getting a nice, large map to put up on a wall someday. I never heard of this first map that had America registered, and I was impressed. Though liking world maps, I don't know much about the history behind them, but now I have a little bit ;-) Thanks!

Diane said...

I LOVE maps and globes. They remind me of all the things I've still to do in my life :)

Holly said...

FASCINATING!! (As always!:)) I also love ond maps. I would decoupage everything in my house with old maps if my husband would let me. :) Old maps give that feel of a mysterious treasure hunt! I also love old world globes...

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

I have a friend who has a room filled with shelves of maps. I didn't understand the fascination at first but it's growing on me - especially the beautiful old ones.x

Mahmud Yussop said...

Good gracious me! US$10m for a map. I really admire institution like the US Library of Congress that has bought it for posterity. An excellent post. I'll start looking for old maps from now on about Borneo!!

sallymandy said...

Fascinating! Thank you, Z. I found this very interesting, as your posts always are. xo

Protege said...

=Jacki,
you mean you have seen it on display in the Library? Wow, if that is true i relay envy you! To me this old map combines that which I find utterly intriguing; science, discovery and art.;) And I agree, they had to have talent in envisioning the world in their imagination.;)

=Betsy,
so true, I agree with you both. It never seizes to amaze me how fascinating human beings are.;)) xo

=bb mcclain,
welcome.;) I am not sure I have never seen it, unless someone had pointed it out to me.;) I truly enjoyed the image of it below though.;)
Thank you for stopping by.;)

=Valentine,
my sentiments exactly.;)) I guess the old maps were more pieces of art than anything else.;))
Always love your comments.;)) xo

=Claus,
glad you enjoyed this.;) I also find the story of the Waldseemuller map fantastic. Perhaps you can get a copy for your wall, that would sure look good.;))
Hope your Friday is great.;) xo

=Diane,
I do follow that sentiment, a bit like their are the navigator sin our life.;)) Hope you will have a wonderful Friday.;)) xo

=Holly,
I agree, there is a feeling of some sort of adventure and exciting possibilities in the old maps.;)) A mystique of the unknown or undiscovered. I am sure that is what inspired all the explorers in the past.;))
Always love when you stop by.;)) xo

=Reasons To Be...,
I think I know what you mean. The idea of a map is not particularly exciting, but to actually see it and touch it and gaze at it holds a particular sensation that does grow on you.;))
Have a wonderful Friday.;)) xoxo

=Mahmud,
I guess someone in Germany knew how to do good business.)) Hehe.;))
Let me know if you find any old maps of your land, I am sure they exist.;) Have a great TGIF!;)

=sallymandy,
thank you so much, I am so happy you too find this interesting as these kind of subjects leave me almost breathless;)) I too am totally intrigued by the past and the history and what is more amazing than the history of explorers and map making.;)
Hope your Friday is great and weekend as well.;))
xo

PETE Di LALLO said...

Thanks so much for this post...as the 12th commenter so far your talent in posting is appreciated and welcomed...outstanding stuff for this one...I love it...

steviewren said...

I am happy to learn that I am not the only nerd who likes maps. I took National Geographic for years and still have all the maps that were enclosed in the magazines 4 or 5 times a year. I take them out every now and again to read again.

Thanks for introducing me to the history and imagination behind the making of this historical map.

Protege said...

=Pete,
glad to see you back again.;)) And I am very happy you enjoyed his post, I too find everything about he map intriguing.;) Thank you so much for stopping by.;)

=stevie,
oh no, you are not a nerd at all. How can one not like a piece of wonderful history, such as the early world map? Anything to do with exploration is exciting and a part of our past, I am always excited to know that others share my enthusiasm.
Hope you are having a great weekend, always glad when you stop by.;) xo

Mel said...

That's really fascinating! My calendar at work is old maps. I'll have to see if a copy of this one is included.

Protege said...

=Mel,
glad you enjoyed this.;)
What a cool calender to have.;)) Let me know if this one is there.;)) And have great Monday, here it is already Monday morning and back to work for me.;)

Keera Ann Fox said...

I had never heard of the Waldeseemüller map and had to set aside time to watch all five parts of the documentary you linked to. Thanks! Very entertaining and enlightening!

Protege said...

=Keera,
so glad that you enjoyed watching the documentary! I too love it and have seen it again myself after re-discovering it on youtube.;))
I love that we never stop learning.;))