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Martin Waldseemüller & the Map that Named "America"

Changing World Views

1507 World View

Men with Globes

The title of Waldseemüller's wall map indicates much about the map: the figure of the world that it portrays combines Ptolemaic geography with new discoveries of explorers.

Waldseemüller titled his wall map Universalis Cosmographia Secundum Ptholemaei Traditionem Et Americi Vespucii Aliorumque Lustrationes (The world according to the tradition of Ptolemy and the voyages of Amerigo Vespucci and of others). In the map margins he has put commentary about the voyages of Columbus and Vespucci. The map is made using a modified conical projection, the second projection described by Ptolemy in his Geographia. The importance of Vespucci and Ptolemy to the map is immediately evident: on the upper left is Ptolemy's portrait; to the right, a portrait of Vespucci. A small map displaying the world view of each is placed next to them, Ptolemy with his world map centered on Asia, Vespucci with a map centered on Japan, with part of North America joined to South America. This world map clearly combines classical and new world views.