1588 Sebastian Munster Antique Map of Africa, Source of Nile & Cannibals

Cartographer : Sebastian Munster

  • Title : Africa Mit Seinen Besondern Lanendern, Thieren und Wunderbarlichen Dingen (Africa with its special countries, animals, and wonderful things)
  • Size: 13 1/2in x 8 1/2in (345mm x 230mm)
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition
  • Date : 1588
  • Ref #:  17058

This original wood-block engraved antique map of Africa, to text, by Sebastian Munster was published by Sebastian Petri in the 1588 edition of Cosmographia.
Most editions of Munster Cosmographia contained a small woodcut map of Africa as a text illustration. It excludes the Horn of Africa and the Cape of Good Hope, but Mons Lunae origina of the Nile appears, with many kingdoms Central and North Africa. Additional text and woodcuts appear on the verso of a battle and cannibal.

The Cosmographia or Cosmography was first published in 1544 and is the earliest German-language description of the world.
It had numerous editions in different languages including Latin, French (translated by François de Belleforest), Italian, English, and Czech. The last German edition was published in 1628. The Cosmographia was one of the most successful and popular books of the 16th century and passed through 24 editions in 100 years. This success was due to the notable woodcuts (some by Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf, Hans Rudolph Manuel Deutsch, and David Kandel). It was most important in reviving geography in 16th-century Europe. Among the notable maps within Cosmographia is the map Die Newe Welt oder Inseln, which is credited as the first map to show the American continents as geographically unique.
Munsters earlier geographic works were Germania descriptio (1530) and Mappa Europae (1536). In 1540, he published a Latin edition of Ptolemy\\\'s Geographia, with numerous illustrations.

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: -
Colors used: -
General color appearance: -
Paper size: - 13 1/2in x 8 1/2in (345mm x 230mm)
Plate size: - 6in x 5in (150mm x 130mm)
Margins: - Min 1/2in (12mm)

Margins: - Light age toning
Plate area: - Light age toning
Verso: - Light age toning

The first separately printed map of Africa (as with the other known continents) appeared in Munsters Geographia from 1540 onwards and the first atlas devoted to Africa only was published in 1588 in Venice by Livio Sanuto, but the finest individual map of the century was that engraved on 8 sheets by Gastaldi, published in Venice in 1564. Apart from maps in sixteenth-century atlases generally there were also magnificent marine maps of 1596 by Jan van Linschoten (engraved by van Langrens) of the southern half of the continent with highly imaginative and decorative detail in the interior. In the next century there were many attractive maps including those of Mercator/Hondius (1606), Speed (1627), Blaeu (1 630), Visscher (1636), de Wit (c. 1670), all embellished with vignettes of harbours and principal towns and bordered with elaborate and colourful figures of their inhabitants, but the interior remained uncharted with the exception of that part of the continent known as Ethiopia, the name which was applied to a wide area including present-day Abyssinia. Here the legends of Prester John lingered on and, as so often happened in other remote parts of the world, the only certain knowledge of the region was provided by Jesuit missionaries. Among these was Father Geronimo Lobo (1595-1678), whose work A Voyage to Abyssinia was used as the basis for a remarkably accurate map published by a German scholar, Hiob Ludolf in 1683. Despite the formidable problems which faced them, the French cartographers G. Delisle (c. 1700-22), J. B. B. dAnville (1727-49) and N. Bellin (1754) greatly improved the standards of mapping of the continent, improvements which were usually, although not always, maintained by Homann, Seutter, de Ia Rochette, Bowen, Faden and many others in the later years of the century, (Ref: Norwich; Tooley)