Johann Gruninger

(1455–1533)

Born in Markgroningen, Johannes Grüninger spent his working life in Strasbourg. He was a canny businessman, associated with the Gymnasium Vosage’ at St. Die, and in 1509 reprinted the Cosmographiae introductio’ (1507), the book that contains the first printed instance of the name​“America” being applied to the discoveries over the Atlantic. The book was originally accompanied by: a set of small woodcut map gores by Martin Waldseemuller, the first known printed gores for a terrestrial globe ever made, which showed a landmass meant to represent South America labelled as​“America”; and the Universalis cosmographia’, the great world map in twelve sheets, also by Waldseemüller, showing the Americas as one contiguous continent, and the first map to give this name to the new discoveries.

Also in 1509, Grüninger published German language editions of Vespucci’s accounts of his voyages, and a description of the globe gores, as Der Welt Kugel’ – The world’s sphere’ – designed to appeal to merchants and the general public “… darin der Kauffman vnd ein ieclicher sehen vnd mercken mag wie die Menschen vnden gegen vns wonen vnd wie die Son vmbgang, herin beschribe seltzamen Dingen” – So that the merchant and anyone else may see and notice how the people below us on the opposite side are living and how the sun moves, here described together with many curious things”. 

From 1520, after Waldseemuller’s death, to about 1525, Grüninger collaborated with Laurent – Lorenz – Fries who worked as cartographic editor for or with Grüninger, exploiting the corpus of material that Waldseemuller had created. After Gruninger’s death in 1531, the materials for Fries’s edition of Ptolemy’s geography, published by Gruninger, based on the maps originally created for Waldseemuller’s atlas of 1513, were sold to Melchior and Gaspar Trechsel, who issued a joint edition in 1535. Gaspar published another edition alone in 1541.