Carta Marina


Waldseemüller, Martin (1470-1521)


This nautical chart is the third map of the Americas attributed to Waldseemüller. This one and the 1513 Ptolemy Map (the second one) "corrected" the 1507 map. Waldseemüller was possibly criticized for naming the New World (western hemisphere) after Amerigo Vespucci and for not giving full credit to Columbus for discovering it. (The Vikings and John Cabot did not get much credit either).

The Carta Marina is composed of twelve individual sheets similar for the 1507 and both were bound into a portfolio along with other items which had been in the Castle of Prince Waldburg-Wolfegg in Baden-Wurttenberg in Germany where they were discovered and described by Fr. Josef Fischer in 1901. They were sought by institutions in the U.S. and Congress acted to acquire the 1507 map in 2001. The purchase was completed in 2003. To complete the acquisition, Jay Kislak of Miami bought the other items in the portfolio, including the Carta Marina, and generously donated them along with his collection to the Library of Congress.

The Carta Marina has traditional nautical details like a portolan. The Gulf of Mexico and Yucatan are more clearly shown even though Yucatan is still shown as islands. The passage through Central America is not shown as it was on the 1507 main map. The peninsula in the approximate location of present-day Florida has place names along both coasts but has a different overall name "Terra Cuba, Asia parties" based on the insistence of some that this peninsula was Columbus' Cuba, which he claimed was the mainland of Asia. Did Columbus "discover" Florida? No one knows who discovered it, but it was not recognized as being what it is until later maps and the "official discovery" by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513.


Image scanned from a reproduction in a private collection.

References: Fischer, Winsor (1886), DeVorsay.

Coverage Time: