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Title page by A. Dürer
Lorenz Fries' Ptolemy Atlas. 1525

Lorenz Fries* (c. 1485 – 1532)

Lorenz Fries, a physician, astrologer, and cartographic editor, was a native Alsatian. Nothing is known about his youth and early schooling. His university education in philosophy and medicine has been acquired at several schools. He probably attended Vienna, Montpellier, Piacenza, and Pavia. He obtained a Doctor of Arts degree at one of these institutions.

His first professional position was in Sélestat, near Strasbourg. He practised medicine in Colmar from 1514 to 1518. He wrote several medical works, including a practice entitled Spiegel der Artzny (Mirror of Medicine), a trendy book with seven editions up to 1546. After 1519, he moved to Strasbourg, where he stayed until about 1527.

In 1520, Fries became involved in the publication of new editions of maps by Martin Waldseemüller. He collaborated with Peter Apian to publish a much-reduced version of Waldseemüller's map of 1507.

In the meantime, Fries was preparing a new edition of Ptolemy's Geographia. The book was printed in 1522 by Johannes Grüninger, an esteemed printer from Strasbourg who had previously published the Waldseemüller. It was based on Waldseemüller's editions of 1513 and 1520. Fries says in a note to the reader: "…, we declare that Martin Waldseemüller, piously deceased, originally constructed these maps and that they have been drawn in a format smaller than they ever had". The book sold well, and new editions would follow, printed with the same woodblocks.

In 1525, Willibald Pirkheimer, the Nuremberg humanist, published a new edition with Grüninger. The volume was published jointly with the Nuremberg printer Johannes Koberger. It included the same fifty Waldseemüller/Fries maps as the 1522 edition.

Michael Servetus (= Michael Villanovus) printed two more editions in Lyon in 1535 and 1541. Servetus was tried for heresy in 1553. One of the allegations was that he had written a statement on the verso of the map of the Holy Land describing it as primarily infertile. The idea originated in Fries's edition in 1522. Servetus was burned at the stake, and at Calvin's orders, many copies of Servetus's books followed him into the flames.

Fries also published other books on astrology and medicine. In addition, he undertook a reduction of Waldseemüller's large map of 1516, the Carta Marina Navigatoria, which he translated into German simultaneously. The map was published in 1525, but no copy of this edition survived. The earliest copy known is dated 1530.

In 1525, Strasbourg had become a thoroughly reformed city, and the Roman church's adherents found themselves increasingly unwelcome. For this reason, Fries probably renounced his citizenship and moved to Metz. During this period, he published his last two medical works.

*He should be distinct from the historian Lorenz Fries of Mergentheim (1491-1550).


Claudius Ptolemy (c.100 – c.170 AD)

Claudius Ptolemaeus was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, and geographer who lived in Alexandria during the 2nd century. Much of medieval astronomy and geography were built on his ideas. He was the first to use longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. This idea of a global coordinates system was highly influential, and we use a similar system today.

Ptolemy wrote several scientific treatises. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the Almagest, and the second is the Geography, which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. The third is the Apotelesmatika, an astrological treatise in which he attempted to adapt horoscopic astrology to the Aristotelian natural philosophy of his day.

The Geographia is a compilation of geographical coordinates of the part of the world known to the Roman Empire during his time. However, the maps in surviving manuscripts of Ptolemy's Geography only date from about 1300, after Maximus Planudes rediscovered the text. It seems likely that the topographical tables are cumulative texts – texts which were altered and added to as new knowledge became available in the centuries after Ptolemy.

The earliest printed edition with engraved maps was produced in Bologna in 1477, followed quickly by a Roman edition in 1478. An edition printed at Ulm in 1482, including woodcut maps, was the first one published north of the Alps.

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Claudii Ptolemaei Geographiae Enarrationis libro octo ...

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Item Number:  29251 Authenticity Guarantee

Category:  Antique maps > Curiosities

Title page + second folio of Lorenz Fries' 1525 Ptolemy Atlas.

Title: Claudii Ptolemaei Geographiae Enarrationis libro octo ...

Date: 1525.

Woodcut, printed on paper, title in letterpress. Two pages.
Woodcut size: 325 x 240mm (12.8 x 9.45 inches).
Sheet size: 400 x 270mm (15.75 x 10.63 inches).
Verso: Latin text.
Condition: Margins stained, right margin frayed, 17th-century handwritten text in the centre (crossed out) dated 1631.
Condition Rating: A

From: L. Fries, Claudii Ptolemaei Geographiae Enarrationis libro octo ... Strasbourg, J. Grüninger, 1525. (Karrow, 28/G.1; Shirley (Brit. Lib.), T.PTOL.7b))

The woodcut is attributed to Albrecht Dürer.

Lorenz Fries* (c. 1485 – 1532)

Lorenz Fries, a physician, astrologer, and cartographic editor, was a native Alsatian. Nothing is known about his youth and early schooling. His university education in philosophy and medicine has been acquired at several schools. He probably attended Vienna, Montpellier, Piacenza, and Pavia. He obtained a Doctor of Arts degree at one of these institutions.

His first professional position was in Sélestat, near Strasbourg. He practised medicine in Colmar from 1514 to 1518. He wrote several medical works, including a practice entitled Spiegel der Artzny (Mirror of Medicine), a trendy book with seven editions up to 1546. After 1519, he moved to Strasbourg, where he stayed until about 1527.

In 1520, Fries became involved in the publication of new editions of maps by Martin Waldseemüller. He collaborated with Peter Apian to publish a much-reduced version of Waldseemüller's map of 1507.

In the meantime, Fries was preparing a new edition of Ptolemy's Geographia. The book was printed in 1522 by Johannes Grüninger, an esteemed printer from Strasbourg who had previously published the Waldseemüller. It was based on Waldseemüller's editions of 1513 and 1520. Fries says in a note to the reader: "…, we declare that Martin Waldseemüller, piously deceased, originally constructed these maps and that they have been drawn in a format smaller than they ever had". The book sold well, and new editions would follow, printed with the same woodblocks.

In 1525, Willibald Pirkheimer, the Nuremberg humanist, published a new edition with Grüninger. The volume was published jointly with the Nuremberg printer Johannes Koberger. It included the same fifty Waldseemüller/Fries maps as the 1522 edition.

Michael Servetus (= Michael Villanovus) printed two more editions in Lyon in 1535 and 1541. Servetus was tried for heresy in 1553. One of the allegations was that he had written a statement on the verso of the map of the Holy Land describing it as primarily infertile. The idea originated in Fries's edition in 1522. Servetus was burned at the stake, and at Calvin's orders, many copies of Servetus's books followed him into the flames.

Fries also published other books on astrology and medicine. In addition, he undertook a reduction of Waldseemüller's large map of 1516, the Carta Marina Navigatoria, which he translated into German simultaneously. The map was published in 1525, but no copy of this edition survived. The earliest copy known is dated 1530.

In 1525, Strasbourg had become a thoroughly reformed city, and the Roman church's adherents found themselves increasingly unwelcome. For this reason, Fries probably renounced his citizenship and moved to Metz. During this period, he published his last two medical works.

*He should be distinct from the historian Lorenz Fries of Mergentheim (1491-1550).


Claudius Ptolemy (c.100 – c.170 AD)

Claudius Ptolemaeus was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, and geographer who lived in Alexandria during the 2nd century. Much of medieval astronomy and geography were built on his ideas. He was the first to use longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. This idea of a global coordinates system was highly influential, and we use a similar system today.

Ptolemy wrote several scientific treatises. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the Almagest, and the second is the Geography, which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. The third is the Apotelesmatika, an astrological treatise in which he attempted to adapt horoscopic astrology to the Aristotelian natural philosophy of his day.

The Geographia is a compilation of geographical coordinates of the part of the world known to the Roman Empire during his time. However, the maps in surviving manuscripts of Ptolemy's Geography only date from about 1300, after Maximus Planudes rediscovered the text. It seems likely that the topographical tables are cumulative texts – texts which were altered and added to as new knowledge became available in the centuries after Ptolemy.

The earliest printed edition with engraved maps was produced in Bologna in 1477, followed quickly by a Roman edition in 1478. An edition printed at Ulm in 1482, including woodcut maps, was the first one published north of the Alps.

References: Shirley (Brit.Lib.) - I, p. 826, T.PTOL-7b; Pastoureau - p. 378, Ptolomée D 1525