German (Augsburg), 1472

Language: Latin

height 33 cm

University of Oregon Library, Special Collections and University Archives
Edward Burgess Early Printed Book Collection, Ms 111


Diebold, William. The Illustrated Book in the Age of Printing: Books and Manuscripts from Oregon Collections. Portland, OR: Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, 1993, cat. no. 15, p. 24 - Quoted with permission

This rather modest image is the first printed map [refers to page on display in exhibit from which this text was originally a catalog entry]. Although the standardization of knowledge provided by printed maps would be crucial to exploration and discovery in early modern Europe, the new technology of printing had little effect on this map's form; the woodcut repeats with no change a common medieval map, well known from manuscripts. Asia is a semicircle at the top, with the bottom quadrants representing Europe and Africa. The continents are separated by the T-shaped Mediterranean, while the circular ocean surrounds the entire world. The conservatism of this first printed map is not surprising, since the text it illustrates was originally written around the year 600 A.D. by Isidore, bishop of Seville. The continued relevance of Isidore's text in the second half of the fifteenth century shows the remarkable endurance into the age of printing of much thought produced in a scribal culture. It hardly seems critical that this map is technically, in Ivins’ words, "an exactly reproducible visual statement."