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A Very Early Map of India
In a Superb Example

India. MERCATOR, G./ PTOLEMY, C. [Cologne, 1584]
Asiae X Tab:. 13 ½ x 18 inches
Fine hand color; fine condition.

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From the second edition Mercator’s definitive version of Ptolemy’s geography, the map depicts India as it was known in the Roman Imperial period. It was based on geographic data and mapmaking instructions left by the Alexandrian geographer and astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy (fl. A.D. 127-180), whose work laid out the fundamental principles of mapmaking as we know it. Gerard Mercator (1512-1594), the great Flemish geographer, produced the most accurate printed edition of Ptolemy's geography, for which Mercator engraved the maps himself. 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.

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