Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    The Earliest Obtainable Map to Name the New World "America"

    [Maps]. Peter Apianus. Tipus Orbis Universalis Ivxta Ptolomei Cosmpgraphi Traditionem et Americi Vespucii... 1520. ["Delineation of the Entire World Prepared According to the Teaching of Ptolemy the Cosmographer, and the Voyages of Americus Vespuccius and others by Peter Apian of Leissig"]. [Vienna: 1520]. First edition of this rare and important map. One folio sheet. Approximately 13 x 17 inches. Double-page woodcut map of the world. Some creases, a few short tears, neat repairs, and some restoration at margins, two words outside the map rule renewed, some minor spotting and marginal staining. Still, a near fine copy of this rarity. Matted, framed and glazed.

    This 1520 world map is "the earliest obtainable map to name America" (Burden, The Mapping of North America). Peter Bienewitz, known as Apianus, was "a true renaissance man: astronomer, mathematician, cartographer, and printer." His Introduction to Cosmography (1524), a classic of the age of exploration, was "the first geographical work of importance in which the experiences of the discovery of the new world were used." The foundation for Apianus' success was this world map, published when he was just twenty-five. The Apianus map is based upon Ptolemaic traditions, but it is enhanced with information from the great early voyages of discovery by Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. By 1520, Apianus had gathered information from the most advanced maps yet produced in Europe, including the 1507 Martin Waldseemuller wall map (subsequently lost for almost 400 years) and perhaps the globes of Johan Schoner (ca. 1515). Apianus collected cartographical knowledge and refined these maps to produce a cordiform (heart-shaped) world map with the land mass of the New World labeled "America". This map later appeared in various forms in Apianus' famous and widely-circulated published works. Thus, for almost 400 years, this 1520 world map was known as the source of the cartographic term "America," coined after Amerigo Vespucci. The history of the exploration of the New World and its mapping are inextricably entwined. Columbus' voyages in the 1490s are the beginning, and they are reflected in this map in its printed note, "Anno 1497 hec terra cum adiacetibo insulis inuenta est per Columbum Ianuensem ex mandato Regis Castello." The voyages and the explorations of Amerigo Vespucci are forever glorified by Apianus by the adoption of his name for the Americas. In addition to the dramatic popularization of the term America, the map is significant as one of a handful of maps and gores from this early period to present the American continents as separate from Asia. In gauging the significance of this map, it is interesting to note that in an appendix to Ptolemy's Atlas with additions by Waldseemuller in 1513, the land mass of the Americas is represented, however, the term "America" was not used. Soon, however, Apianus was to popularize the term "America" in the present map and then in his influential Cosmographies. Very little documentation of the earliest navigational charts and maps of early American exploration survives. No manuscript or printed maps or charts of the New World which can be dated accurately from before 1500 have survived, and no printed maps of the New World before 1506-1507 are known.

    The few existing representations of the New World which have survived from before 1520 are rare relics. The list of these surviving maps or gores recognizing the naming of "America" is very short. In 1901, a single example of a 1507 wall map by Waldseemuller was rediscovered in a European library and was purchased in 2001 by the Library of Congress for $10,000,000. Two maps by Cornelius Aurelius, perhaps from 1514, and a handful of globe gores by two early makers exist in institutions as well. These singular, unobtainable examples were lost to scholars and the public for centuries, unlike the great 1520 Apianus map which forever established "America" as the identity of the New World.

    Church 45. Sabin 86390. Shirley 45. Harrisse, The Discovery of North America, 126. Harrise, Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima, 108.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2012
    11th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,241

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $50,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $50,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on Apr 11, 2012 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 December 9 - 10 Books Signature Auction.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage Auctions and Mr. Chad Reingold were...professional and courteous in all transactions and provided outstanding service in answering my many emails. I recommend them at the highest level.
    Killy M.,
    Melbourne Beach, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search