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From Mercator’s Definitive Edition of Ptolemy’s Geography

Crimea/Ukraine/Russia. MERCATOR, G./ PTOLEMY, C. [Cologne, 1584]
Eur: VIII Tab: . 13 ¼ x 16 ¾ inches
Fine hand color; reinforced at bottom centerfold, else excellent condition.

   $750


An early edition, the second, of this very attractive map, engraved by Gerard Mercator himself, of the ancient geography of Eastern Europe. This region was known in the Roman period as Sarmatia Europae, and it represented the limit of the Roman world’s accurate knowledge of geography to its northeast. The map is particularly detailed in those areas along the Black Sea coast, including the Ukraine and the Crimea, but the Sea of Azov (then known as the Maeotian Lake) is greatly distorted, and all points east appear to owe more to rumor than to actual contact.
Meeting in this map are two of the most important figures in the history of geography. Geographic data and mapmaking instructions left by the Alexandrian, Claudius Ptolemy (fl. A.D. 127-180), became the foundation of mapmaking as we know it today. And 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.


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

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