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“The Earliest Modern Printed Map” – Campbell
A Superb Example of a 15th Century Edition

Holy Land. ANONYMOUS [Lyons, 1491]
Untitled Woodcut Map of the Holy Land. . 12 ¼ x 18 inches
Mended thread holes at centerfold, else excellent with complete margins.

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A remarkably strong example of a very early edition of this groundbreaking map of the Holy Land. In its first edition of 1475 (Lubeck), this was, as Campbell states, the first modern printed map in the sense of being the first printed work to attempt something approaching a realistic geographic depiction of an area. It preceded by two years the first edition of the Ptolemy atlas of Bologna, which was the first atlas overall. Previous to this, printed maps were limited to diagrams or works based more on theology than geography.
This first edition of this map referred to above is, practically speaking, unacquirable. We have seen only a single, complete copy of it offered on the market in the last 25 years; it now resides in the Osher Map Library in Portland. However, editions of this map and an accompanying world, closely modeled after the Lubeck editions, were published first in Paris in 1488 and then in Lyons in 1491. Our example is the first Lyons edition. (Examples of the maps from particular editions can be readily differentiated, as indicated by Campbell.) In recent years, only editions of 1506 or later have appeared on the market and usually in poor, trimmed examples. Thus, this 1491 edition is one of the earliest editions of this map to become available in several years and is especially desirable for its unusually fine condition.
According to Nebenzahl, the map was based on a lost work by Burchard of Mt. Sion, a 13th century Dominican from Magdeburg, who made the map to illustrate his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. With east at the top, the map displays the Holy Land from Damascus and Sidon in the north to the Red Sea in a kind of modified, very high-altitude bird’s-eye view. In stylized fashion, each town and city is shown atop a separate mountain separated by walls or rivers. A compact Jerusalem with its several walls is at the very center of the map. In this edition, the place names were changed to French from the Latin of the Lubeck edition. The map appeared in a work entitled Les mer des hystoires, a history of the world up to the year 417 A.D. that also contained a geographical summary.
The maps of the Holy Land that would soon be published after this one in the many editions of the Ptolemy atlas were not based on the prototype used by this map. Thus, its highly distinctive visual manner, so redolent of its medieval source, yet still taking a step toward modern mapping, is available to the collector only in the various editions of this map itself.


Campbell, T. The Earliest Printed Maps, no. 218, pp. 144-51; cf. Nebenzahl, Maps of the Holy Land, p. 62.

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