An astonishing feature of Waldseemüller's 1507 globe is the huge land toward the east, spanning the right-hand three gores. The large island or continent is named "America." Martin Waldseemüller chose the name for his two maps of 1507 to honor Amerigo Vespucci, whose writings about his voyages to America between 1497 and 1504 were popular reading in Europe.
The modern viewer identifies this land quickly as South America. But how did Waldseemüller six years before Vasco Núñez de Balboa sighted the Pacific Ocean on 25 September 1513 and twelve years before Ferdinand Magellan made his circumnavigation of the globe in 1519-22 make such an accurate representation of South America? And how was it that he depicted what appeared to be something of both North and South America?
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Earlier maps that Waldseemüller studied in making his world maps do not show the west coast of South America. Did information from the Americans somehow reach the mapmaker? Possibly. Maybe it was only luck or chance. And why did Waldseemüller, who lived in the Alsace, on the east bank of the Rhine opposite southern Germany, choose to honor Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian who sailed for the king of Portugal?
Knowing that Vespucci planned or already had made two maps of the world, one a globe and the other a flat map, and that Waldseemüller made two maps exactly in these formats, incorporating the accounts written by Vespucci, it is natural to wonder if there could have been a closer relationship between the two than has been previously believed.
Where did Waldseemüller get his text for the Quatuor Americi Vesputii Navigationes and where did he get the Vespucci information for his maps?
Where did Waldseemüller get the portrait of Vespucci that appeared on the world map of 1507?
Did Vespucci correspond with Waldseemüller? Or with Ringmann? Is it possible that Waldseemüller and Vespucci met? What sources did Waldseemüller consult in making his map?
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