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Mid-16th century Ptolemaic woodcut map of France.

Place/Date: Basel / 1545
Title: Tabula Europae III (France)
Woodblock printing
34 x 26 cm (13.5 x 10 in)
Condition Rating


Charming, woodblock-printed map of France, extending into Germany and Switzerland. The most prominent topographic features are rivers and mountain ranges. The latter includes the Pyrenees and the Alps, both executed in a wonderful stylized manner, with light shading. Cities are presented mostly in their Latin names.

The first edition of Münster’s Ptolemaic map of France appeared in his Geographia Universalis, first published in 1540. This was a new and important edition of Ptolemy, with redesigned maps and the text revised by Münster based on the Willibald Pirckheimer Latin translation with corrections of 1535 by Servetus.

On the verso there is a decorative woodcut border most likely executed cut by the famous 16th century woodcutter Hans Holbein.


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

Woodblock map with letterpress on verso. Paper with usual age-toning. Repair of split lower part center fold.


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