First map in an edition of Ptolemy to name America

By PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius, 1525 

Geographicae enarrationis libri octo. Bilibaldo Pirckeymhero interprete. Annotationes Joannis de Regio Monte in errores commissos a Jacobo Angelo in translatione sua.

  • Author: PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius
  • Publication place: Argentoragi
  • Publisher: Johannes Grieningerus
  • Publication date: 1525.
  • Physical description: Folio atlas (406 by 265mm), title within ornamental woodcut border, and 50 numbered woodcut maps (27 double-page of the ancient world, 22 double-page maps of the modern world by Laurent Fries, and one full-page map of Lotharingia on the verso of map 46), mounted on vellum guards, woodcut diagrams in the text, contemporary blind-stamped pigskin over oak boards, metal clasps.Collation: A‑M(6), N(4), O(6), 50 numbered double-page woodcut maps a‑e(6), f(4), P(6), Q(8) [Collophon].
  • Inventory reference: 1052


Fourth Strassburg edition. The text was translated by Wilibald Pirckheimer, using the notes of Johannes Regiomontanus, perhaps under the editorship of Johann Huttich; the ornamental woodblock designs on the reverse of the maps are attributed to Albrecht Dürer, who also contributed the woodblock of the armillary sphere. The present edition is the second one printed by Grüninger. However, all maps are printed by the woodblocks of the first Grüninger edition of 1522.

The woodcut maps in the trapezoid shape developed by the German cartographer Nicolaus Germanus (1420 – 1490) in 1460 comprise 27 maps according to Ptolemy as well as 23 modern” maps (Tabula Moderna) according to the knowledge of the time.The modern section” was copied by Lorenz Fries, on a reduced format, from the maps prepared by Waldseemüller for the 1513 Strassburg Ptolemy, and accordingly contains the new maps of North America and the West Indies, Lorraine, Switzerland, Crete, North Africa, Southern Africa, Southern Asia and the World.

To that group Fries added three maps: South East Asia and the East Indies, China and Japan and a navigational map of the world. The two former are the first separate printed maps of the regions they depict.

The 50 woodcut maps, with the exception of Quinta Asie Tabula” are from the same blocks as those of 1522 edition. Map 47 is single page on verso of map 46. Map 50, Orbis typus universalis” by Laurentius Fries, is the first map in a Ptolemy in which the name America” is used. Maps 28, 34, 49 and 50 relate more or less to America, and are described in a note to the preceding edition. Most of them have a descriptive text on verso enclosed within elaborate woodcut borders, which may have been the work of Hans Holbein and Urs Graf. The account of the discoveries of Columbus and others is on the back of Map 28. The dedication by Bilibaldus Pirckeymherus, dated at Norenberge. Kalendis septembris. Anno Salutis nostre. M.D.XXIV.,” begins on the verso of the title and ends on the verso of folio 2. Index Ptolemaei …” (with half-title within illustrated border): [68]p. at end. 


Otto Schäfer Collection. 


  1. Phillips , Atlases 362
    • Phillips, P. (1909–1992). A list of goegrpahical atlases in the Library of Congress. Washington: Govt. Print. Off.
  2. Sabin 66482.
    • Sabin, J. (1962). A Dictionary of books relating to America. Amsterdam: Israel.

Image gallery