Sebastian Munster. “Anglia II. Nova Tabula.” From Sebastian Munster’s edition of Geographia. Basel: Henric Petri, 1552. Fourth edition. 11 x 14 3/4. Woodcut. Decorative woodblock on verso attributed to Hans Holbein. Shirley: 55.
In 1540, cartographer Sebastian Munster issued his version of Claudius Ptolemy’s Geographia. This work contained maps of the different parts of the world as understood by Ptolemy, the librarian at Alexandria, Egypt ca. 150 A.D.. At the same time that he recognized Ptolemy’s work by reissuing his maps directly, Munster also added a number of “modern” maps, reflecting the new knowledge gleaned of the world in the intervening fourteen centuries. These “new” maps issued by Munster reflect the most up-to-date information available in Europe, for Munster was a assiduous collector of geographic data at the various book fairs in northern Europe and through his correspondence with other learned men of the time. This map of England is particularly good of its subject, containing around 80 named towns, rivers, and other topographical features, many of these shown for the first time on this map. As Rodney Shirley states, it was “substantially in advance of any others printed hitherto.” (Early Printed Maps of the British Isles, p. 28) The map is “oriented,” that is east is at the top, and it covers all of England, Wales, and parts of Scotland and Ireland. The source material for Munster’s map is unknown, though it is thought that he had access to some form of the famous Gough map. There are few map available to the collector of equal interest and historic import.