The Gymnasium Vosagense planned to publish a fine critical edition of Ptolemy's Geographia on its new printing press.

About 1505 Waldseemüller moved to France, to the town of St. Dié in the Vosges mountains, and the site of a Benedictine monastery. About this same time a printing press was set up in the town, under the patronage of René II, Duke of Lorraine. Waldseemüller soon became active in the Gymnasium Vosagense, a society for the arts and sciences which also enjoyed the duke’s patronage. The duke encouraged the collecting of foreign books and maps — including maps from Spain, Portugual, and Italy — for the society and its bookshop. Duke René was especially interested in geography.

The leader of the Gymnasium Vosagense, Walter Ludd, was secretary to the duke as well as the owner of the print shop. Ludd, Waldseemüller, and Matthias Ringmann — a poet and teacher of Latin who had also studied with Reisch — planned to publish a fine critical edition of the Geographia. They borrowed a Greek manuscript of the text from a monastery and began research on it. The idea was to print the book and its maps at St. Dié.

The first task was to compare Ptolemy’s maps with several other maps and with the writings of Amerigo Vespucci. This proved to be a very large undertaking, and took far longer than expected. Although the editing was in process by 1505, progress was very slow. The printing press was ready. As Waldseemüller wrote: "Therefore, studying, to the best of my ability and with the aid of several persons, the books of Ptolemy from a Greek copy, and adding the relations of the four voyages of Amerigo Vespucci, I have prepared for the general use of scholars a map of the whole world — like an introduction, so to speak — both in the solid and projected on the plane" (Waldseemüller 1907, 34). Possibly the maps for the edition of Ptolemy were ready for the printer as early as 1507. The text was unfinished, however, and when Ringmann died in 1511 Waldseemüller gave up the project.

The Waldseemüller/Ringmann edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia was printed at last in 1513 in Strassburg (Strasbourg) by Johann Schott, another former student of Gregor Reisch, who had been at Freiburg when Waldseemüller studied there.

1513 Ptolemy

Atlantic Ocean and surrounding lands, from Waldseemüller's edition of Ptolemy, published in 1513. Note the name of the land mass on the left. What famous name has been removed from this map?
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