The world revealed at last

On 16 January 2020, by Caroline Legrand

This composite atlas printed in Nuremberg between 1753 and 1759 features no fewer than 278 geographical maps drawn up by the famous German cartographer Jean-Baptiste Homann and his heirs.

Geographicus Major et Germaniae, composite atlas, 278 maps, most engraved by Jean-Baptiste Homann and his heirs, Nuremberg, 1753-1759, two in-folio volumes mounted on tabs, period light-coloured basan.
Estimate: €30,000/40,000

The earliest large-scale geographical maps date from the 18th century. Previously, cartographers did not aim for an accurate geometrical transcription, and their maps look a bit whimsical to us now. In the 18th century, scientific advances and the ability to make topographical surveys thanks to triangulation and constant measurement enabled cartographers to become increasingly rigorous and draw to scale. Encouraged by great rulers who wanted to have accurate maps of their States, starting with Louis XIV, and by the rising number of science enthusiasts, geographers stepped up their activity. They were also helped by the transition from woodcuts to copperplate engraving, burin engraving, drypoint and etching, which allowed them to print more and sharper copies. these new opportunities gave rise to vocations. A case in point is Jean-Baptiste Homann (1663-1724). A notary in Nuremberg, he decided to turn to cartography in the late 17th century and founded his own publishing house in 1702. Homann quickly earned a good reputation and became Charles VI’s imperial geographer in 1715. He made many maps of Europe and America, the most famous being the 1716 Grand Atlas du monde. After his death, his son Johann Christoph (1703-1730) took over before ceding the rights of his large collection, mostly to his brother-in-law Johann Georg Ebersberger, with the obligation to sign the future publications “Homann Heirs”. That is the case for these two volumes bringing together 278 maps in period colours, most by Jean-Baptiste Homann himself. Even the heavens are depicted, as shown by the superb celestial map reproduced here.

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