Martayan Lan Search

To Order or Inquire:
(800) 423-3741
or (212) 308-0018
Fax: (212) 308-0074
E-mail: [email protected]

70 East 55th Street, (Heron Tower)
New York, New York 10022

All items guaranteed original and published at the time indicated. We do not deal in reproductions. Certificates of Authenticity available for all purchases.

Table of Contents

Mouse over picture for zoom. (This may take a few seconds.)
Click here to view the larger image in a new window.

The Work of Two of History’s Greatest Geographers

Morocco/ Algeria/ Tunisia/ Spain. MERCATOR, G./ PTOLEMY, C. [Cologne, 1584]
Afr: I Tab: . 12 ½ x 18 inches
Fine hand color; reinforced bottom of centerfold, else excellent.


A very attractive example of an early edition, the second, from Mercator’s definitive edition of Ptolemy’s geography. The map shows the area as it was known in the Roman Imperial period. It was based on geographic data and mapmaking instructions left by the Alexandrian, Claudius Ptolemy (fl. A.D. 127-180), whose work laid out the fundamental principles of mapmaking as we know it. It was Gerard Mercator (1512-1594), the great Flemish geographer, whose edition of Ptolemy was considered the most accurate. In particular, Mercator’s maps conformed more closely to Ptolemy’s original design than any of the several earlier editions. Mercator’s became the standard text, with many editions following this one as late as the 18th century.
Mercator in 1540 published Literarum latinarum, the first instructional handbook in the use of the italic hand to appear outside of Italy. It was also the first work to offer instruction in the use of italic script in the engraving of maps. This and the other maps in Mercator’s Ptolemy are arguably the finest demonstrations Mercator provided in the use of italics. Moreover, “the beauty and legibility of the best sixteenth and severteenth-century Dutch maps can be traced in large measure to Mercator’s influence” (Karrow, p. 382).

Karrow, R. Mapmakers in the Sixteenth Century, pp. 376-406.

Table of Contents

Back to Africa

Back to the Top