Contact address | Imprint

Cartographica Helvetica


Peter H. Meurer:

The replacement maps for the 1588 'Cosmographia' by Sebastian Münster

Cartographica Helvetica 7 (1993) 11–20


The Cosmographia by Sebastian Münster (1488–1552) was first published in 1544 and reprinted in 17 different editions until 1628. In this paper the definition of 'forehead-maps' (Vortext-Karten) is introduced: these are maps which are placed between index and text, as opposed to the ordinary maps which are combined with the regular text. Some of these wood-cut forehead-maps had already been made for Münster's previous Ptolemy edition (1540). The year 1588 marks a modification in the publication of Münster's Cosmographia with a completely different version of 26 new forehead-maps, which were also used in the German edition of the Cosmographia.

The article shows the need of remaking these maps. The result is considered as evidence that Basel had lost its scientific and technical contact in the field of cartography during the last third of the 16th century. In an analysis of the sources and the map contents, the author proves that the maps are entirely compilations. A possible source could be a volume of maps from the Library of the University of Basel. The question of the origin of this anthology led to the hypothesis that the compiler could be one of a circle of humanists around Basilius Amerbach of Basel (1533–1591). There is no reason for a presumption, that another foreign expert like David Wolkenstein (1534–1592) was involved with the map compilation.

The 26 forehead-maps of the 1588 Cosmographia are listed and commented on.

© 1990–2022 Cartographica Helvetica (Imprint)

Logo Valid HTML 4.01 Logo Valid CSS