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16th century woodcut world map with unexplained Australian landmass.

Place/Date: Magdeburg / ca. 1581
Title: Die Eigentliche und Warhafftige Gestalt der Erden und des Meers. Cosmographia Universalis
Woodblock printing
35.5 x 26.5 cm (14 x 10.5 in)
Condition Rating


Woodcut world map with several notable features. Most interestingly, in the right hand corner the mapmaker has shown a landmass labeled India Meridionalis, which is remarkably similar to the west coast of Australia and in the correct relative position. The history behind the European discovery of Australia is shrouded in doubt, and this map may be part of the story, perhaps and indication of earlier than accepted Portuguese knowledge of the island continent.

In Europe one can detect a hint of Bunting’s famous depiction of the continent as a queen. Africa presents a clear conception of a Ptolemaic Nile, along with the Mountains of the Moon. In the left hand corner we see an emerging America.


Heinrich Bünting

Heinrich Bünting (1545 – 1606) was a Protestant pastor and theologian. He is best known for his book of woodcut maps titled Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae (Travel book through Holy Scripture) first published in 1581.

Condition Description

Standard paper toning and show-through from the verso, frayed edges.


Shirley, Rodney W. The Mapping of the World: Early Printed World Maps, 1472-1700. London: Holland Press, 1983, #142.

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