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Ptolemy edition of 1513

When Ptolemy’s Geography was translated into Latin, it had a powerful impact on Renaissance cartographers.

Claudius Ptolemaeus. Geographie opus novissima. Strassburg, Johann Schott, 1513. Folger call number G87.P8 L3 1513 Cage.

One of the most important classical texts in the Renaissance was the Geography of the Greek philosopher Claudius Ptolemaeus, commonly known as Ptolemy, which dates from about AD 150. When the Geography was translated into Latin in the 15th century (the first printed edition appeared in 1477), it had a powerful impact on cartographers. In the Geography, Ptolemy not only states that the earth is spherical but also demonstrates the use of a coordinate system based on that shape, and proposes three methods, or projections, for depicting the spherical earth on a flat surface. 

This map is taken from the 1513 Strassburg edition of the Geography. Like other Renaissance and medieval editions, it includes reconstructed maps based on Ptolemy’s lists of places and coordinates. The 1513 edition is considered among the more important editions because it also includes 20 new maps attributed to the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, many of which incorporate recent discoveries. 

The maps in the Folger copy were hand-colored, perhaps at about the time they were issued.

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