February 8, 2013 Rare Renaissance Maps Subject of New Library Publication
Contact: Audrey Fischer, Library of Congress (202) 707-0022 | Karen Lunstead, D Giles Ltd. (845) 297-4569
One of the most important compilations of Renaissance cartographic materials is the subject of a new volume to be published in March by the Library of Congress in association with D Giles Ltd. “A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox: Johannes Schöner and the Revolution of Modern Science 1474-1550” by John Hessler is the first scholarly publication on Schöner’s collection of 15th-century cartographic treasures.
Johannes Schöner (1477-1547), one of the great neglected figures of the scientific revolution, lived during a period in history that witnessed the discovery of the New World in 1492 by Columbus and the formulation of a heliocentric model of the universe by Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543. Rather than a producer of theories, German globemaker Schöner was a compiler, annotator and disseminator of the new science and mathematics. Bound together some time after 1516, the Sammelband became for him a kind of toolbox of sources and information that he would use in the constructions of his own globes and astrological predictions.
Schöner’s notes and annotations not only show his thinking about theoretical and practical geography, but also reveal the art of mapmaking during his lifetime. In “A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox,” Hessler discusses Schöner’s opinions on Ptolemy’s Geographia, his reaction to the new discoveries of Columbus and Vespucci and his involvement in the new astronomy of Copernicus.
Hessler will discuss and sign his book at noon on Wednesday, April 24, in the Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the Library’s James Madison Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The program, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Books & Beyond lecture series, sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Publishing Office. For more information about the book, go to www.loc.gov/publish/general/.
The Schöner Sammelband was discovered in 1901 by the Jesuit historian, Father Josef Fischer, in the library of the Castle of Wolfegg, in Württemberg, Germany. The volume contained the only surviving copies of Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 world map (the first to call the new world “America”) and his 1516 world map (Carta Marina), along with Schöner’s own globe patterns. The uncovering of the 1507 map in the Wolfegg Castle early last century is thought by many to have been one of the most extraordinary episodes in the history of cartographic scholarship.
The Library of Congress purchased the 1507 map in 2003. The following year, the Library acquired the Jay I. Kislak Collection, which included the other rare items in the Sammelband, along with some of the earliest records and objects of indigenous peoples in North America. Many of these items—including the Waldseemüller maps—are on display in the Library’s “Exploring the Early Americas” exhibition. The exhibition may be viewed in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, or online at myloc.gov/exhibitions/earlyamericas/.
“A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox,” a 176-page hardcover book with 90 color illustrations, is available for $29.95 at bookstores nationwide and through the Library of Congress Shop, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., 20540-4985. Credit-card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557 or online at www.loc.gov/shop/.
John W. Hessler, curator of the Kislak Collection, is senior cartographic reference specialist in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He is the author of “The Naming of America: Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 World Map and the Cosmographiae Introductio” (2008), “Thoreau on Cape Cod: His Journeys and the Lost Maps” (2011), and “Seeing the World Anew: The Radical Vision of Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 and 1516 World Maps” (2012). Hessler has been awarded many grants and fellowships including a John S. Best Research Fellowship from the American Geographical Society, and a Kluge Fellowship by the Library of Congress in 2011.
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 155 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.
The Library of Congress has the largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and atlases in the world, some 5.4 million cartographic items that date from the 14th century to the present time. The Library's map collections contain coverage for every country and subject, and include the works of the most famous mapmakers throughout history—Ptolemy, Waldseemüller, Mercator, Ortelius and Blaeu. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/.