Sanderus catalogue

Old antique picture of sea monsters by S. Münster.

Item number:25732
Category:Antique maps > curiosities and portraits
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Price: SOLD
***   Munster's famous Sea Monsters plate   ***

Monstra Marina & Terrestria, quae Passim in Partibus Aquilonis Inveniuntur. - S. Münster, 1552.

Old antique woodcut of sea monsters inhabiting the nort Atlantic and of animals found in northern lands, by S. Münster.

Date of the first edition: 1550
Date of this map: 1552

Size (not including margins): 26 x 34.5cm (10.1 x 13.5 inches)
Verso text: Latin
Condition: Excellent.
Condition Rating: A+
References: Cumming, illustr. p.44; Vairo, Annex 1

From: Cosmographiae universalis Lib. VI. . . . Basle, H. Petri, 1552.

In the early days of the era of discoveries, many ships would depart to never be seen again. Sailors that managed to return used to speak of encounters with large fish that expelled water. These were included with a long series of sea monsters that were blamed for the missing vessels and sailors. This plate shows some of these monsters. They are based on the accounts of mariners and the draftsmen's imagination. Every letter corresponds to a description, and the danger entailed, and is explained in the chart of sea monsters published in the Cosmographia. We can see a scene depicting a caravel from which barrels with food are thrown while trumpets are blown in an attempt to calm down a monster (whale). We can also see serpents that, according to mariners' beliefs of the time, could overturn ships. At the top we find the terrestrial world with known animals such as bears and deer, among others.

Most of the monsters shown here are found in Olaus Magnus' map of northern Europe and adjacent waters, published in 1539; Münsters's popular cosmography, however, was probably the immediate source of the sea monsters that decorate and enliven the charts of many European mapmakers in the latter half of the sixteenth century.

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