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Peter Meurer:

The Basel world map Typus cosmographicus universalis by Sebastian Münster, 1532

Cartographica Helvetica 50 (2014) 41–50


Printer-publisher Johann Herwagen from Basel issued the Novus orbis regionum in 1532 (further editions in 1536 and 1555), a collection of contemporary expedition reports and topographic descriptions. The publishers were humanist Simon Grynaeus from Basel and Johann Huttich from Strasburg. It was actually the realization of a publishing project which had previously been prepared by Martin Waldseemüller.

All three editions contain an oval projection of a world map. This is the first printed world map which originated in the territory of modern Switzerland. Its author was most likely Sebastian Münster, who also wrote an explanatory text in the publication. The model for the world image was Waldseemüller's 1507 world map. Numerous addenda were obtained primarily from texts in the Novus orbis regionum.

Four printing blocks were used for the map: two wood blocks for the drawing and two type frames for the lettering, both of which were set anew for each of the three editions. The woodcut and the decorations are attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger. Remarkable are the two angels who are rotating the Earth using cranks. This is a combination of cosmos models by Thomas Aquinas and Celio Calcagnini.

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