The First Woodcut Map of the World
Ptolemaeus, Claudius & Johannes Schnitzer of Armszheim
Date of Creation:
When it was first issued in 1482, this was the first woodcut map of the world, showing Greenland and Scandinavia, for the first time in a Ptolemaic map.
This example, comes from the second edition of the first atlas to be printed in Germany, the first atlas to contain maps made from woodcut blocks, the first to be issued with hand-coloured maps, and the first to name the cartographer of the maps.
This world map is of particular interest, as it is the first to be signed, by Johannes Schnitzer (ie woodcutter) of Armszheim, who in trade mark fashion has reversed every capital N, and inadvertently provided two Tropics of Cancer. Armszheim furthermore, updated the Ptolemaic world picture by incorporating improvements that were probably based on a manuscript of the 1470s by Nicolaus Germanus (c1420-1490), a Benedictine monk of Reichenbach Abbey in Bavaria, who is depicted in the first illuminated letter of the atlas presenting his book to the dedicatee Pope Paul II. One notable addition is a rudimentary depiction of Scandinavia to the north, within an extension of the map's top border. This is also the earliest printed map to show the northernmost reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.