By AUDREY FISCHER
The Library of Congress recently published a facsimile of a 16th century map of the Americas. The ornate map was the largest engraved map of North and South America at the time and one of two known originals. It was given to the Library's Geography and Map Division by Lessing J. Rosenwald in 1949.
Sixteenth century European explorers, primarily from Spain and Portugal, successfully traversed vast portions of the Western Hemisphere, and their findings were revealed gradually to an information-starved Europe in the half-century after Christopher Columbus's voyage to America.
In 1562, Diego Gutiérrez, a Spanish cartographer from the respected Casa de la Contratación in Seville, and Hieronymous Cock, a noted engraver from Antwerp, collaborated in the preparation of the map, which provided substantial information about vast portions of the new world.
The map depicted the East Coast of the United States, Central and South America, Canada and Mexico and portions of the western coasts of Europe and Africa. It also provided a richly illustrated view of a region filled with images and names that had been popularized in Europe after 1492.
On the map were found one of the earliest references to California, the Amazon River system, other rivers of South America, Lake Titicaca, the location of Potosí, Bolivia (a silver mining center), and of Mexico City. Also depicted were Florida and the greater southeastern part of the United States, plus myriad coastal features of South, Central, North and Caribbean America. Images of parrots, monkeys, mermaids, fearsome sea creatures, cannibals, Patagonian giants and an erupting volcano in central Mexico complemented the numerous settlements, rivers, mountains and capes that were named.
The original map, which occasionally goes on display in the permanent, rotating exhibition, "American Treasures of the Library of Congress," is a magnet for geographers, who line up to take turns inspecting it closely.
The facsimile, which measures 93 by 86 cm., was reproduced by the Library with the assistance of the VITAE Foundation in Brazil and Digicolor in Seattle. The map reproduction is accompanied by a brochure containing the history of the map and the events surrounding its preparation written by John R. Hébert, senior specialist in Hispanic bibliography, of the Library's Hispanic Division. The map and brochure are available for $28 from the Library's Sales Shop. Credit card orders are taken at (202) 707-0204 and fax orders at (202) 707-5057. Checks payable to the Library of Congress may be sent to the Sales Shop, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4985. A mailing and handling charge of $5 will be added to the $28 cost of the publication.
Ms. Fischer is a public affairs specialist in the Public Affairs Office.