Upcoming Books on the Waldseemüller Map

Two upcoming volumes promise to open up “America’s Birth Certificate” to a mass audience

The Waldseemüller Map, a world map drawn and first published in 1507, is the map credited with not merely integrating into the cartographic knowledge store the continents at the western edge of the Atlantic Ocean but dubbing them with the name we use today for them: “America”. Two upcoming books aim to explore Waldseemüller even more deeply, coincident to the U.S. Library of Congress’s acquisition of the world-famous map.

The first one, Putting America on the Map: The Story of the Most Important Graphic Document in the History of the United States, by Seymour Schwartz, is due to be released in August by Prometheus Books and is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com. Amazon has this to say about that:

In a colorful narrative that reads like a good mystery, Dr. Seymour I. Schwartz brings to life the amazing history of America’s “baptismal certificate.” Since its creation the Waldseemüller World Map of 1507 has been surrounded by many intrigues and four major controversies. How did America come to be assigned that name and was it an appropriate choice? How can the revolutionary geographic representations depicted on the map be explained in the light of the fact that they preceded the known discoveries? What is the actual date that can be ascribed to the map now in the possession of the Library of Congress? Was the Waldseemüller World Map of 1507 the first to depict continental land in the New World and the first to bear the name “America”?

Another upcomer is a book by John Hessler, The Naming of America: Waldseemuller’s 1507 World Map and the Cosmographiae Inroductio, published by the Library of Congress and designed by Giles of London, is expected out in late December, at the same time that the Map is due to be encased by the LoC. Announced on the MapHist mailing list, the book:

..contains an introduction to new scholarship on both the 1507 and 1516 World Maps, focusing mostly on their use by their first owner Johannes Schoner and the map’s relationship to the other parts of Schoner’s extant Library in Vienna. The book also contains a new heavily annotated translation of Waldseemuller and Ringmann’s Cosmographiae Introductio with a commentary
on the text that identifies place names and the sources for Waldseemuller’s quotes from classical and contemporary literature. This is topped off with a sheet by sheet facsimile of the 1507 World Map.

John Hessler is a researcher at the Library of Congress whose blog, Warping Waldseemüller, is recommended reading.

(heads up via MapHist)