Tabula Terrae Novae


One of the earliest obtainable maps of the New World with contemporary notes about Columbus’s discoveries.

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This influential map by Laurent Fries shows an early (and surprisingly accurate) configuration of North and South America between approximately the St. Lawrence River and Rio de la Plata. It’s based on an earlier (1513) map by Martin Waldseemuller, colloquially known as the Admiral’s Map because Waldseemuller attributed the source of his information to “the Admiral” in the accompanying text. This is generally taken to mean Christopher Columbus, who is duly credited as the rightful discoverer in the text above Terra Nova. Nearby, a contemporary manuscript annotation references Columbus’ discoveries of 1492.

It’s worth mentioning here that Waldseemuller may have included the note about Columbus in an attempt to correct a previous error – in his 1507 map, Waldseemuller was the first to use the name “America,” crediting Vespucci. Though he attempted to give Columbus his just due in later productions (like the 1513 map), the name stuck and would henceforth be known as America. Fries kept this text in his version but added the vignettes of cannibalism and a possum, which were reported by Vespucci in his travels. Other updates between the Waldseemuller and Fries maps include the changing of Terra Incognita to Terra Nova, the addition of the Spanish flag above the island of Hispaniola (Queen Isabella island), and Parias, a name given by Columbus and misplaced in North America.

Laurent Fries was a 16th-century physician, geographer, and astrologer who was well educated in philosophy and medicine and born around 1490 near Colmar. He published several early pharmaceutical tracts before settling in Strasbourg around 1519. It was here that he began editing the cartographic works of Martin Waldseemuller, the first mapmaker to name America in his 1507 wall map of the world that exists in only one known copy. Fries essentially created reduced versions of Waldseemuller’s maps for an updated edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia, including this ‘new’ map of the world.

This map is the fourth of four states issued by Fries; 1522 (Strasbourg), 1525 (Strasbourg), 1535 (Lyons), and 1541 (Vienna). The last two editions were published by the German theologian Michal Servetus, who was burned at the stake for heresy during the Protestant Reformation. John Calvin ordered the destruction of all works by Servetus, including the book in which this map was originally published, making it a rarity on the market.

References: Nebenzahl Plate 21, Phillips 336, Shirley 7g, Karrow 28/29, Burden 4, Goss Plate 3

Map Details

Publication Date: 1541

Author: Laurent Fries

Sheet Width (in): 20.50

Sheet Height (in): 15.25

Condition: A-

Condition Description: Faint discoloration along the vertical centerfold and a few scattered spots and smudges visible in the lower margin. Old mark, apparently an ink stain, diagonally in the South Atlantic. Contemporary manuscript annotations visible in the New World.


1 in stock