Skip to main content
Item #4808 Tertia Europae Tabula [France and Belgium] [from:] Cosmographia. c., Cartographer AD, Cartographer, fl., Woodcutter.

Tertia Europae Tabula [France and Belgium] [from:] Cosmographia

Ulm, Germany: Lienhart Holle, July 16, 1482. Map. Double-page woodcut map with fine original hand-coloring and Latin place names in letterpress. Carved gold leaf frame with Amiran anti-reflective archival glass with UV protection. Scale: c.1:4,000,000. Sheet: (15 1/2 x 22 1/4 inches). Frame: (25 1/2 x 32 1/4 inches).

A beautiful incunable map of Western Europe from the 1482 Ulm edition of Ptolemy's "Geographia." This map is from the first atlas to be printed north of the Alps and the first with woodcut maps. Here with fine period coloring, including lapis lazuli blue seas, not the ochre color of later editions.

This rare incunable map is one of the earliest to picture modern France and Belgium. It is from the 1482 Ulm edition of Ptolemy's Geographia, printed by Lienhart Holle and titled Cosmographia, in which Donnus Nicolaus Germanus adapted Ptolemy's second century cartography and added five modern maps, including the present one. Seen here is the entirety of France (Frantia) and Belgium; parts of England (Anglie), Spain (Hispanie), Germany (Germanie), and Holland, as well as many of the French islands including Jersey. Indicated, too, is the Mediterraean Sea (Mare Mediterranevm) and Mare Gallicum (French Sea, today the Bay of Biscay), both captured in luxurious lapis lazuli blue. This map directly followed another map of France in the 1482 Ulm which focused on the political divisions and regions of the area, whereas this map includes more topographical features, with amorphous tan shapes indicating France's seven mountain ranges including the Alps and the Pyrenees. It is the more attractive of the two. The 1482 Ulm atlas was a revelation in its manifold innovations: it was the first printed north of the Alps; the first with woodcut maps; the first with maps "signed" by the artist responsible - its world map states "Engraved by Johann, woodcutter from Armszheim" - and his backward "N" was cut into each woodblock used to print the maps; it was the first Ptolemaic atlas with 32 maps; the first to come with publisher's coloring or directions for embellishment; and the first to print text on the verso discussing the map on each corresponding recto. [Shirley] The Cosmographia atlas was the first book printed by Lienhart Holle: a masterful debut. But with its 32 individual hand-colored woodcut maps, including a world map, all printed with letterpress type, it was disastrously expensive to produce and its publication bankrupted Holle. The remaining sheets, woodcuts, matrices, and type were taken up by another printer in Ulm, Johann Reger, who reissued the work in 1486. Those second edition Reger maps are seen with the less desirable ochre washes over the sea in place of lapis lazuli blue, as here. "Claudius Ptolemaeus is the Latinized name of the geographer and astronomer who is more generally known as Ptolemy and who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, from 90-168 AD. His principal geographic work, the Geographia was transmitted from classical times and was the first atlas to be printed. The text is based on the translation from the Greek by Jacobus Angelus." [Shirley] The five modern maps, including the present map of France, were based on manuscript projections by the editor, Donnus Nicolaus Germanus, a Benedictine monk from the diocese of Breslau who lived and worked in Florence. Garmanus likely invented the trapezoid projection, which became known as the Donis-projection, which allows one to represent a three dimensional, spherical section on a two dimensional page. Campbell concludes that the "major achievement of the Ptolemaic maps was to introduce a formalized grid of longitude and latitude, in conjunction with positions obtained through astronomical observations. By favoring the shortest of various Greek estimates as to the circumference of the earth and arriving at a much reduced value for a degree of longitude, Ptolemy seriously underestimated the distance between western Europe and the supposed position of China." Had Columbus realized the true distance, "it is conceivable that he would never have set out on his first, momentous voyage." [Earliest Printed Maps]

Bagrow/Skelton, History of Cartography, Second Edition, p.91. Berggren and Jones, Ptolemy's Geography, passim. BMC, II, 538.IC.9305. Campbell, Earliest Printed Maps, pp.121-147, 179-210; Early Maps, pp.12-13. Copinger 4976. Dibdin, Bibliotheca Spenceriana, 392. Dilke, Greek and Roman Maps, pp.72-86, 154-166. Dufour/Lagumina 49. Hain-Copinger 13539. JCB, 1919, I, 11. Lynam, First Engraved Atlas of the World, passim. Nebenzahl, Atlas of Columbus and the Great Discoveries 1. Nordenskiöld 199. Panzer, III, 535, no.28. Phillips, Geographical Atlases, 353. Sabin 66472. Scammell, World Ecompassed 37. Schreiber 5032. Shirley, British Library, T.PTOL-4a-e; Mapping of the World 10. Skelton, "Introduction to the Facsimile to Ptolemy's Cosmographia," (Amsterdam: Israel/Meridian, 1963). Winsor, Bibliography of Ptolomy's Geography, p.5.

Item #4808

Price: $30,000.00