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1588 Münster woodcut and letterpress map of Europe.

Place/Date: Basel / ca. 1588
Title: Europa das ein Drittheil der Erde nach gelegenheit unserer zeit beschrieben…
Woodblock printing
30.6 x 36.1 cm (12 x 14.2 in)
Hand color
Condition Rating


Lovely example of Münster’s final map of Europe. The map includes sea monsters, sailing ships, and fishing boats. It shows pictorial mountains and forests and elegant calligraphic lettering of regions and places.

This charming map was published in the 1588 edition of Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographia. Münster was the first to introduce a separate map for each of the four then-known continents (Europe, Asia, Africa, America).


Sebastian Münster

Sebastian Münster (1488 – 1552) was a German cartographer, cosmographer, and a Christian Hebraist scholar.

His Cosmographia of 1544 was the earliest German-language description of the world. It had numerous editions in different languages including Latin, French, Italian, English, and even Czech. The Cosmographia was one of the most successful and popular works of the 16th century. It passed through 24 editions in 100 years. This success was due to its excellent woodcuts (some by Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf, Hans Rudolph Manuel Deutsch, and David Kandel), in addition to including the first to introduce separate maps for each of the four continents known then – America, Africa, Asia and Europe. It was most important in reviving geography in 16th-century Europe. The last German edition was published in 1628, long after his death.

Münster died in Basel of the plague in 1552.

Condition Description

Minor chips in the margins, otherwise excellent.


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