Claude Ptolemy (AD150)

The earliest printed atlases were editions of the geographical text of Claudius Ptolemy (or Ptolemaeus), a Greek astronomer and geographer working in Alexandria, circa 150 A.D. Such was the importance of Ptolemy’s work, and the wide influence it held over future geographers, that many of his errors were perpetuated by subsequent mapmakers. The most important of them was a miscalculation of the circumference of the earth. Ptolemy, himself, under-exaggerated the circumference if the earth, by calculating each degree of longitude as 500 stadia, instead of a more accurate 700 stadia. He then exaggerated the length of the Mediterranean by about 30%, and also that of Asia, thus greatly reducing the distance between the western tip of Spain, and the east coast of Asia. This had important consequences, for all future explorers including Columbus who was know to own the 1478 edition of Ptolemy Geographia.

Re-discovery of the Ptolemy Texts: Following the fall of the Roman Empire, Ptolemy’s text was lost to western geographers. The earliest extant manuscript version of the ‘Geographia’ is Arabic, and probably dates from the 12th Century. Subsequently, the text was translated into Greek, and circulated through the Greek World. In about 1400 a Greek manuscript came into the hands of the Byzantine scholar, Emanuel Chrysolaras, who was working in Italy. Chrysolaras undertook a translation of the text into Latin, and completed by his pupil Jacopo d'Angelo, in 1406. The Greek manuscript that Angelo translated was apparently lacking maps, but the data in the text contained the information to construct a set of maps, and numbers of scholars set about such work. Of them, the most influential, was Donnus Nicolaus Germanus, a German cartographer, active in Italy from the 1460’s to 1480’s. He was a prolific editor of the text and maps, and his work formed the basis for three of the four sets of Ptolemaic maps printed in the fifteenth Century, with the fourth, accompanying Berlinghieri’s ‘Geographia’, “strongly influenced” by him .

The first printed versions of Ptolemy’s Text: The first published edition of the ‘Geographia’ with maps, which were probably engraved by Taddeo Crivelli, was issued in Bologna in 1477. Conrad Sweynheym was also working on an edition of Ptolemy in Rome in the same period. After his death, Arnold Buckinck, saw the atlas through the press, in 1478. Of the engraved editions of Ptolemy’s ‘Cosmographia’ the maps in the Rome edition are the finest fifteenth century examples, and second only to Mercator’s maps, from his 1578 edition. The atlas proved popular, and three successive editions (to 1508) followed. In 1482, Nicolas Laurentii published a set of Ptolemaic maps to illustrate Francesco Berlinghieri ‘Geographia’. The first edition of Ptolemy’s ‘Geographia’ printed outside Italy was published by Lienhart Holle, in Ulm, also in 1482. Holle’s maps were printed from woodcuts, and are characterised by heavy wash colouring for the sea areas, typically a rich blue for the 1482 edition, and an ochre for the 1486 edition. These bright colours, and the greater sense of age that woodcuts convey, make this series the most visually appealing of these various sets of maps.

Later Editions of Ptolemy: Next in chronological sequence, and the most unusual of the editions of Ptolemy, was that published by Jacobus Pentius de Leucho in Venice in 1511, edited by Bernardus Sylvanus. Martin Waldseemuller’s edition of Ptolemy, first published in 1513, is the most important of the sixteenth century editions. Waldseemuller’s edition was reprinted in 1520, and then the maps were re-drawn by Lorenz Fries on a smaller format, for editions published in 1522, 1525, 1535 and 1541. The next to produce an edition of Ptolemy was Sebastian Munster, who worked in Basle. Munster was one of the leading geographers and cartographers of his period, and he diligently set about revising and improving the maps. Giacomo Gastaldi, one of the leading cartographers of the sixteenth century, composed a set of maps for an edition of the ‘Geographia’, published in Venice in 1548. Of all the editions of Ptolemy, that prepared by Gerard Mercator, and published in 1578, is technically the finest, with the World map being a particularly fine engraving. This atlas is, also, noteworthy for its longevity, the original printing plates were still in use in 1730, over one hundred and fifty years after they were first engraved.

Claude Ptolemy (1)

Sort by:
1712 J B Homann Large Antique 1st Edition Map of North & Central America

1712 J B Homann Large Antique 1st Edition Map of North & Central America

  • Title : Regni Mexicani seu Novae Hispaniae Ludovicianae, N. Angliae, Carolinae, Virginiae, et Pensylvaniae nec non Insularum Archipelagi Mexicani in America Septentrionali accurata Tabula...Joh. Baptista Homano
  • Ref #:  93464
  • Size: 25in x 21 1/2in (635mm x 545mm)
  • Date : 1712
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition


This large, original beautifully hand coloured, copper plate engraved antique 1st edition map of North & Central America and The Caribbean was published by Johann Baptiste Homann in 1712.

This is a magnificent map, with all the political nuisances of early 18th century Europe played out on on a map of The New World.
The tension between the three European superpowers of the time, France, Spain & England, is evident from the diminishing power of the Spanish, to the aspirational power of the French and British. The French borders in Louisiana and Canada push west and south far beyond reality, encroaching into New Mexico, Canada & the British colonial states. Large Spanish warships are seen to overpower both the British & French fleets in the bottom left naval battle.
With the death of Queen Anne in 1714 and the ascension of George I to the British throne, the era of British power in the New World will lead to the inevitable hard fought freedom of a new country, the United States. A great early 18th century map.

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: - Original
Colors used: - Yellow, green, blue, pink
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 25in x 21 1/2in (635mm x 545mm)
Plate size: - 23in x 19 1/2in (590mm x 500mm)
Margins: - Min 1/2in (12mm)

Margins: - Old ink notations top L & R corners not affecting image
Plate area: - None
Verso: - None

J B Homanns 1715 map of North & Central America from The Great Lakes to Mexico, The Caribbean to Panama was based on the earlier 1703 map of the same region by Claude Delisle, Carte du Mexique et de la Florida des Terres Angloises, who derived his information from the likes of La Salle, Bienville, d Iberville, Le Sueur and other French, British & Spanish explorers.
The map centres on Louisiana and the Mississippi River Valley, with detailed information of Mexico to the Pacific, north to New Mexico and the Great Lakes. East to the Colonial states, French Florida, The West Indies and northern South America.
Louisiana is divided as per the French borders in Delisles map, with large French aspirations extending well into Spanish North America from the Rio Grande to the Appalachian Mountains. France also lays claim to large sways of land in Canada and the whole of the Great Lakes and much of the northern colonial states of the time. One of the earliest maps to accurately portray the mouth of the Mississippi and the Great Lakes region.
An elaborately decorative map with illustrations of Spanish unloading gold while the native Americans look on. To the lower left is shown a large Spanish Galleon, with guns blazing on the smaller French or British fleet, highlighting the still evident power of the Spanish. A very political European view of the new world in the early 18th century.

$2,499.00 USD
More Info