Exploring the Early Americas
- The 1516 map, unlike the 1507 map, does not show the existence of the Pacific Ocean and displays a greatly reduced continent of South America. Waldseemüller’s representation of this fragment of the continent is not unlike that of the famous “Cantino Planisphere,” the map known as the “Admiral’s Chart,” that is found in Waldseemüller’s 1513 edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia and is therefore not unique to the Carta Marina.
- The mathematician, globemaker, and astronomer Johannes Schöner (1474–1544) originally owned both the 1507 and 1516 world maps and bound them together into the book that has become known as the Schöner Sammelband. Schöner drew a series of red grid lines over the entire 1516 map and over portions of the 1507 map in order to transfer the coordinates of various places to his globes. There are several places in Schöner’s geographical notebooks where he discusses the gridding technique that he used and that is graphically displayed here.
- The northwest coast of Africa on the 1516 map displays a modern form as does most of the map. The influence of Ptolemy’s geography is not obviously apparent in the representation of the coastlines and landmasses and the map has a form that is recognizable today.
- The 1516 map has many areas that show creatures from mythology and from either real or fictionalized accounts of travel to the less–well–known regions of the earth. The travel narrative was extremely important and influential in the early part of the sixteenth century and many were published in the region around Strasbourg and St. Dié. An example from “the land of the cannibals” is shown below and comes from Waldseemüller’s representation of South America.
- One of the shields on the 1516 map is covered with a plain white piece of paper. During conservation of the map, photographs were taken of the shield that revealed information concealed underneath. The shield covers a list of mistakes or “errata” for the map that have been corrected by the printers on the copy at the Library of Congress. Even though the Library’s copy is the only surviving one, this information tells us that there must have at least been some proof copies available for the mapmakers and printers to correct.
- The large text block on the Carta Marina is the only source of information that gives us some idea of the number of copies that Waldseemüller may have printed of his maps. The text tells us that Waldseemüller printed 1000 copies of the 1507 map, a number that is questioned by scholars, and also explains that the 1516 Carta Marina is based on more modern sources than the 1507 map.