Posted on: 23 January 2014

Rare Map:
Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio Quam ex Magna Universali Mercatoris . . . MDLXXXVII
Map Maker: Rumold Mercator
Geneva / 1587


Separately published example of the first edition of Mercator's map of the World, first printed in Geneva in 1587.

This is the early edition of the text, which was changed by 1595, when the first edition of Mercator's Atlas was published. The map is readily distinguishable from the editions of 1595 and after, which include a crack in the copperplate, between the R's in the word "Terrae" in the title.

The map includes text below the image, which was changed by 1595 and thereafter discontinued in editions after 1603. This is the only collectible world map by Gerard Mercator, the greatest geographer of his era. Both his 1538 and 1569 world maps are unapproachable rarities.

The present work is a reduced version of the 1569 wall map of the world, on which the revolutionary Mercator Projection was introduced. Oddly, this folio version recast the map into a double-hemisphere format and did not employ the Mercator Projection. Gerhard Mercator died in 1594, the year before his first world atlas was published. It would be several decades before a world map on his Mercator's projection would appear in a commercial atlas. This fine piece of engraving, with elegant, strapwork ornamentation, of what was certainly the most important world map of the late 16th Century.

While later editions appear on the market with some frequency, the pre 1595 editions with the text are scarce on the market.

Click here for an extra large map:

Source: Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps

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Amazing what they knew back then.