Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Eastern Europe by Münster




Polonia et Ungaria XV Nova Tabula


Basle, 1540


25.8 x 34.2 cms



Stock number





$ 775


The earliest maps of the region.

"Following the various editions of Waldseemüller's maps, the names of three cartographers dominate the sixteenth century: Mercator, Ortelius and Münster, and of these three M├╝nster probably had the widest influence in spreading geographical knowledge throughout Europe in the middle years of the century.

His 'Cosmographia', issued in 1544, contained not only the latest maps and views of many well-known cities, but included an encyclopaedic amount of detail about the known - and unknown - world and undoubtedly must have been one of the most widely read books of its time, going through nearly forty editions in six languages.

An eminent German mathematician and linguist, Münster became
Professor of Hebrew at Heidelberg and later at Basle, where he settled in 1529. In 1528, following his first mapping of Germany, he appealed to German scholars to send him 'descriptions, so that all Germany with its villages, towns, trades, etc. may be seen as in a mirror', even going so far as to give instructions on how they should 'map' their own localities. The response was far greater than expected and such information was sent by foreigners as well as Germans so that, eventually, he was able to include many up-to-date, if not very accurate, maps in his atlases.

He was the first to provide a separate map of each of the four known Continents and the first separately printed map of England. His maps, printed from woodblocks, are now greatly valued by collectors. His two major works, the 'Geographia' and the 'Cosmographia' were published in Basle by his step-son, Henri Petri, who continued to issue many editions after Münster's death of the plague in 1552."

(Moreland & Bannister).

"The remaining modern maps, [...], are all drawn on a plane projection, undergraduated, without scales, and variously oriented with north, south, east or west at the top, 'without the excuse of topographical necessity', as Nordenskjöld severely remarks. In spite of these and other cartographic defects, they constitute an important corpus of geographical knowledge and interpretation; Münster was the first atlas-maker to furnish separate maps of the four continents then known; and for England, Scandinavia and southern Germany, eastern Europe and America he brought recent and significant representations into general currency."


"The 'Cosmographia' of Sebastian Münster must rank as the greatest geographical compendium of the period - an immensely detailed work illustrated with woodcut portraits, scenes, town plans and panoramas, and maps.

Born in 1488, Münster was a Fransiscan who became Professor of Hebrew at Heidelberg and later at Basle, where he taught Hebrew and, amongst other works, published the first German translation of the Bible from Hebrew.

In 1540 his edition of Ptolemy's 'Geographia' was published, followed in 1544 by the 'Cosmographia Universalis'. Together these ran to over 35 editions published mostly in Basle in Latin, German, French and Italian versions.

Münster's particular cartographic importance lies in the number of 'new' maps he introduced and, above all, in the innovative, separate mapping of each of the four continents."

(Potter p38).