Basel, in der Officin Henricpetrina, Im Jar 1569.
Very rare edition not described by Sabin of one of the most famous travel and geography books from the Renaissance, illustrated with 26 double-page maps including the map of the “New World” showing the American islands and continent, 37 views and maps of cities on double-page including for example the oldest map of Paris and the first map of Switzerland, 3 folding views of cities (Worms, Heidelberg and Vienna), 17 full-page views and maps of cities, 45 other views of cities and almost 1000 woodcuts depicting the specificities of the various regions of the world.
First description of the world from a German perspective, the Cosmographia was by far the most exhaustive work published so far on the subject, compiling an incredible sum of knowledge about Europe, Asia, Africa and the New World.
Munster’s Cosmographia was one of the most read works in the 16th century and it occupies the second position in terms of popularity after the Bible. This huge success was partly due to the very good woodcuts, by Hans Holbein the younger, Hans Rudolph, David Kandel, Urs Graf, Manuel Deutsch and many others. More than 120 artists worked together to produce this book. This work was a reference book at the time regarding geography and history.
The illustration includes a frontispiece, many double-page and folding plates, and innumerable plates figures in the text.
The American part is represented by the large map of the world of Munster; the map of the world after Ptolemaeus with a southern continent and the famous map “Novus Orbis”, with a quite accurate representation of the Isthmus of Panama; as well as the book “De Novus Insulis” (pp. 1417 to 1426) giving, with engravings, the history of navigations of Columbus, Magellan, Vespucci,…
The engravings of this part depict Columbus’ caravel, local vegetation, Indians decapitating a human being, a human being spit-roasted, …
Brunet mentions the 1550 edition, with 14 maps only, and indicates that the first edition to contain 26 maps is that one from 1569, reprinted twice in 1574 and 1578.
The Cosmographia was actually reprinted in 1572, 1575, 1588 and 1628.
Sabin dedicates 8 pp. to Sebastian Munster and describes 25 different editions of this Cosmographia but he never saw this edition from 1569. He mentions editions before 1569, some with 14 maps, and others with 26 maps.
Sebastian Munster was to become one of “the most influential cartographers in the sixteenth century” (Burden).
“He included for the first time a set of continental maps, the America was the earliest of any notes. He was one of the first to create space in the woodblock for insertion of place-names in metal type. The maps’ inclusion in Munster’s “Cosmography”. sealed the fate of “America” as the name for the new world. The book proved to be very popular, there being nearly forty editions during the following 100 years.” (Burden).
“This work by Munster contains many details about natural history. The maps, although wood-engraved, are remarkable as a masterpiece of this part of history of art: the map of Switzerland, for example, in two sheets, is the first map ever published representing this country”. ((Michaud, part 29, p. 574).
An outstanding copy in very good condition.
Munster’s Cosmographies are seldom found in good original condition: the folio size, the weight of the volume, the thousand of interesting maps and woodcuts encouraging the reader to turn over the pages, the 450 years that passed since the publication of the book got the better of the strongest contemporary bindings. The present binding, very elegant, came down through the ages and makes this copy one of the most beautiful copies in private hand.