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Tabula Novarum Insularum, quas Diversis Respectibus Occidentales & Indianas Vocant

Sebastian Münster (*1489 - 1552)
Coloured woodcut map of the American continent. Printed in Basle by Heinrich Petri in 1554.

More details

Reference 12611



The first map to show the New World as an entity.
Earliest appearance of Japan on a map, predating European contact.
First appearance of Mare Pacificum on a map.

Early state of Sebastian Münster's woodcut map of the New World. This map of America is one of the most important maps in American cartography.

P. Burden notes about this map:

The map's inclusion in Münster's Cosmography, first published in 1544, sealed the fate of 'America' as the name for the New World...

The Portuguese flag is shown flying over the South Atlantic and the Spanish one over her possessions in the Caribbean. The Strait of Magellan are named again, and Mare pacificum appears for the first time on a printed map. Magellan's ship Victoria, the only survivor of five vessels, appears in the middle of this ocean. Marco Polo's influence can be seen with Zipangri (Japan) appearing three years before the earliest known contact with Europeans, and also his Archipelagus 7448 insularu. The Yucatan is still shown as an island and the lake at Temistitan is depicted emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

The woodblock of this map was first used in Seb. Münster's Geographia Universalis in 1540. Münster was one of the first to create space in the woodblocks for the insertion of place-names in metal type. In the follow the text was changed frequently and the identification of the different states of the map is possible. This example comes from the Latin edition of Sebastian Münster's Cosmography, titled Cosmographiae Universalis, published 1554 by Heinrich Petri in Basel. This is the 7th state of total 13 states.


CartographerSebastian Münster
TitleTabula Novarum Insularum, quas Diversis Respectibus Occidentales & Indianas Vocant
Publisher, YearHeinrich Petri, Basle, 1540 (1554)
Plate Size25.7 x 34.2 cm (10.1 x 13.5 inches)
Sheet Size31.7 x 40.2 cm (12.5 x 15.8 inches)
ReferenceBurden, P.D.: The Mapping of North America No. 12.


A brown spot in the lower margin, small hole in the lower white margin next to the centrefold backed. Very good condition with beautiful colours and a strong and clear impression.


Sebastian Münster was born 1489 in Ingelheim (Pfalz). First being a Franciscan, he became Professor for Theology, Hebrew and Mathematics after he converted to Protestantism in 1529. He became one of the most influencing geographers of the sixteenth century. His Cosmographia, published in 1544, spread geographical knowledge wide over Europe. It was issued in nearly 40 editions and 6 languages. Münster was the first cartographer publishing each known continent on a separate map. His second important work was the Geographia, a new edition of Ptolemys Geographia. He died May 1552 in Basel on Black Death.

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Sebastian Münster: Tabula Novarum Insularum, quas Diversis Respectibus Occidentales & Indianas Vocant.
Coloured woodcut map of the American continent. Printed in Basle by Heinrich Petri in 1554.

America Continent - Münster, Sebastian - Tabula Novarum Insularum, quas Diversis...

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