Munster Sea Monster


Page from the Cosmographia.  Basle: [1544].  Sheet: 12 x 8.  Woodcut.  Some light stains.  Overall, very good condition.

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A page showing a wonderful sea monster from Sebastian Munster’s Cosmographia, a compilation of information on the world which included an important series of woodcut maps and prints.  Munster, a Swiss theologian, mathematician and cosmographer, was one of the greatest geographers in the era before “modern” cartography; his output was a most influential cause of the spread of geographic knowledge from the middle years of the sixteenth century.  His works have aptly been described as Renaissance knowledge through a Medieval medium.  Here Munster one of the sea monsters supposedly in the seas off Scandinavia.  While most intellectuals of the late sixteenth century treated the existence of these monsters with skepticism, many still believed in their existence and the issue was certainly not completely decided.