John Hessler presents a lecture on the 1507 and 1516 world maps by Martin Waldseemuller in a program sponsored by the Library’s Geography and Map Division. The maps are two of the most important in the history of cartography and have recently been added to the collections of the Library of Congress. The Library acquired the 1507 map for 0 million in 2003, and the 1516 map is part of the Kislak Collection that was donated to the Library in 2004.
The 1507 map has been referred to in various circles as “America’s birth certificate,” because it is the first document on which the name “America” appears. It is also the first map to depict a separate and full Western Hemisphere and the first to represent the Pacific Ocean as a separate body of water. According to Hessler, the 1516 map is of a very different character and cartographically represents the world in a way that seems to chronologically pre-date the 1507 map.
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