1541 Fries Ptolemaic Antique Map of the Caucasus - Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan

Cartographer : Claude Ptolemy

  • TitleTabula Tertia Asiae complectitur Colchidem, Iberiam, Alberiam & Armeniam maiorem
  • Date : 1541
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition
  • Ref:  92814
  • Size: 20 1/2in x 15in (520mm x 380mm)

This beautifully hand coloured original antique Ptolemaic map of the Caucasus or Caucas region of central Asia - straddling the Black & Caspian Seas - was published by Laurent Fries in the 1541 Vienna edition of Ptolemy's Geographia.

Fries is responsible for publishing three editions of Geographia, with approx. 50 maps, in 1522, 1535 & 1541 after Waldseemullers translation of PtolemysGeographia first published in 1513.
This map is in superb condition, the paper is a fresh as the day it was publsihed

Caucasus - located on the peripheries of Turkey, Iran & Russia the region has been an arena for political, military, religious, and cultural rivalries and expansionism for centuries. Ancient kingdoms of the region included Armenia, Albania, Colchis & Iberia among others. 

By the time of this fourth printing, both Fries and the original printer, Johann Grüninger had died, and the wood-blocks had found their way into the ownership of Melchior and Gaspar Trechsel. 
For this edition, the brothers employed Michael Servetus (burned at the stake for Heresy in 1553 due to derogatory comments in this atlas re: Palestine) to re-edit the text written by Wilibald Pirckheimer for the 1525, edition.  As a result, the text is completely reset when compared with other editions. 

The geographical area of each of the maps is unchanged from the previous editions.  There are variations, however, outside the borders.  Titles, where present, are printed from type set within separate woodcut banners fixed to the upper border of the block. 
The atlas was not re-printed, perhaps in face of competition from Sebastian Munster's edition of 1540, which achieved wide popularity, with its enlarged and improved section of modern maps including, for the first time, a set of maps of the four known continents.

Claude Ptolemy - a Greek mathematician, astronomer and geographer, living in Alexandria, assembled and codified his predecessors' cartographic theories including those of Strabo & Marinus of Tyre (c. AD 120) to whom he was especially indebted. In about AD 150 he published his Geographia, a work in 8 volumes, supposedly illustrated with a world map, 26 regional maps and a profusion of smaller maps. Although the text of the Geographiasurvived, no maps older than about the twelfth century have come down to us and, in consequence, we have no means of knowing whether the 'Ptolemy' maps on which we set so much store were, in fact, drawn by him or were the interpretations of later map makers using his text as a basis.

In Europe the initial awakening of interest in geography arose from the revival of knowledge of Ptolemy's Geographia soon after the year 1400. Greek manuscript copies made in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries were brought by scholars to Italy from Constantinople and were subsequently translated into Latin and widely studied. This work coincided with, and was much influenced by, the development of printing techniques, particularly, of course, by the invention of movable-type printing by Gutenberg about 1450, which made possible for the first time the production of printed books in quantity. Apart from this factor, other more far-reaching influences were compelling the peoples of Western Europe to look beyond the horizon they had known for so many centuries. With the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 the Turks effectively closed Europe's trade routes to the East and shut off access to traditional sources of luxuries and precious metals from Asia and, above all, denied the supply of the spices which had become so important in the lives of ordinary people. Other factors often based on long-believed myths and legends added to the urge to break out into the unknown world.
The interpretation of Ptolemy's text began mainly with the Italians Angelus, Beroaldus & Vadius in 1477 and was re-interpreted and re-issued by many over the next century by the likes Waldseemuller 1513, Gastaldi 1548, Mercator 1578 & Magini 1596. (Ref: Tooley; M&B; Dover)

General Description:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color: - off white
Age of map color: - Early
Colors used: - Yellow, green, red, blue.
General color appearance: - Authentic and fresh
Paper size: - 20 1/2in x 15in (520mm x 380mm)
Plate size: - 20 1/2in x 15in (520mm x 380mm)
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - None
Verso: - None