Sebastian Münster; 1489-1552.
A true renaissance man, this german linguist and mathematician
(and franciscan) may not have been as good a cartographer
as Gerard Mercator or Abraham Ortelius. But he is generally
credited for having been the first and foremost influence
in the spreading of geographical interest and knowledge throughout
His major publications must have been the most read books
of their time (beside religious texts). He expanded on, and
corrected, the work of Martin Waldseemüller, on the basis
of his massive correspondence with numerous german scholars.
Most of his maps were printed using the woodblock technique
of the day.
- Geographia in 1540-42-45-52, all in latin, with 27 ptolemaic
maps and 13 (growing to 27 in the last issue) modern maps.
- Cosmographia Universalis in 1544. In 6 volumes, it was also
published by his step son; Henrich Petri, who continued the
printing till 1588, well after Münster death of the plague.
Further editions in 9 volumes by Petri's son (Henri Sebastian)
till 1628 were rushed to print to compete against the more
successful Ortelius atlas, with Ortelius maps instead of Munster's!
All in all, 33 editions, 19 in german, 5 in latin, 6 in French,
2 in Italian and 1 in czech.
Die statt Cusco (Il Cuscho, citta principale della
provincia del Peru).
This large woodblock print (14 7/8" X 10 5/8") was probably
issued in 1556 (only after 1550 were the enlarged editions
of the "Cosmographia Universalis" to include major town prospects).
It depicts the imperial city of Cuzco, where the Inca resided
till the spanish conquest in 1534... The engraving was " borrowed"
from the 1556 "Delle navigationi et viaggi" by Gian Battista
A naïve and charming representation of the houses, buildings,
palace and fortifications, in the manner of the day (this
style will bloom in 1572 with the "Civitates Orbis Terrarum"
by Braun & Hoggenberg, who recycled the Cuzsco prospect, among
many other originals by Munster). This fantasy town plan of
Cuzco is known to have been reproduced in various forms till
the second half of the 18th century.
On the verso: text in german, and a fascinating map of the
city of Mexico (Themistitan, or Thenochtitlan), as an island
on its lake, very much in the style of the 1524 map attributed
to Hernan Cortez himself. A representation of a stepped pyramid
(half a castle, with adjacent temples) dominates the center
of the town, which is connected to other districts and suburbs
by dykes and bridges.