Friday, February 16, 2018

For a Big Fee, a Map of America

This morning, reading the Badische Zeitung Red Baron shook his head when he read that a copy of the famous map of “America” by Martin Waldseemüller held at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library) is a fake. Yes, the BSB proudly had bought a fake copy of Waldseemüller’s map for 2 million Deutsche Mark (1 million euro) in 1990. The report immediately brought to my mind the lyrics of “I want to be in America” from the musical West Side Story.

When last December Christie’s London put up another map for auction experts became suspicious by comparing their specimen with the copy in Munich. Subsequently, material science tests revealed that around 1960 both copies were drawn from an original kept at the University of Minnesota in the States; where else? At least we know that the specimen kept at the Library of Congress, in Washington, DC, is an original.

There is another copy in Freiburg near the place where once Waldseemüller’s parents’ house, the Haus zum Hechtkopf (pike head), stood.

Visiting the place this morning I learned that it was not Martinus Ilacomilus who had invented the name but Philesius Vogesigena (Matthias Ringmann).

Note the reflection of the Haus zur lieben Hand (House of the Kind Hand)
Then Waldseemüller wrongly (?) wrote America on the map.

Coming back to the two fake copies in Munich and at Christie’s. Why had they not found out earlier? Oh, those experts!

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