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Ptolemy's World

Tour of Maps

1507-8

In 1507 and 1508 important "southern" editions of the Geographia were printed in Rome, edited by Evangelista Tosinus. The printer was Bernardinus Venetus de Vitalibus.

The text of the 1508 edition, in the James Ford Bell Library copy, has ornate manuscript initial letters and fine colored illustrations to accompany the text.

The copperplates used for printing the Rome editions of 1478 and 1490 were used again for the maps in these editions. The 27 Ptolemaic maps are from Nicolaus Germanus, with the world map given in Ptolemy’s first projection. Six new maps have been added; five of them are new maps of familiar regions, and one is an entirely new map.

The wonder begins with this sixth map, bound as the last map in the James Ford Bell Library copy. Johannes Ruysch made this new map of the world, which includes an extensive view of South America, islands of the West Indies, and a portion of North America.

Until the rediscovery of the maps of 1507 made by Martin Waldseemüller, the Ruysch map was thought to be the earliest printed map to show the New World. Once more, little is known about Ruysch except that he was from Utrecht and visited Cologne. Some of the features on his map suggest that Ruysch was using Portuguese sources. See the images below for examples.