Waldseemüller and his colleagues printed this introduction to cosmography for the use of students in 1507 as a companion to the two world maps.

The Cosmographiæ Introductio has a curious history. First, its authorship is debated. Some scholars maintain that Matthias Ringmann wrote all of it; most hold that it was written by Martin Waldseemüller alone. Of course some assume that the writing was shared between them.

Everyone seems to agree that Waldseemüller was the person who approved the text of the book and accompanying maps. The book became a bestseller: at St. Dié alone three editions of it were printed in 1507, and it was printed elsewhere as well.

An unusual difference between two of the St. Dié editions warrants comment. One edition names Waldseemüller as the editor; the other credits the Gymnasium Vosagense.

Pinting imprint

Printer's mark. The "MI" in the circle is for Martin Ilacomylus, as Waldseemüller referred to himself.

In trying to discover the reason for this discrepancy, Joseph Fischer and Franz von Wieser, in their introduction to their translation of the work, state that: "We know that Walter Ludd, the head of the Gymnasium Vosagense, had not only established, as previously mentioned, a printing office at St. Dié and was an author, but had moreover procured the necessary scientific materials" (Waldseemüller 1907, 5).

No clue is given as to what these materials might have been, though the assumption is that they would be maps. It is most likely that Ludd paid Waldseemüller and Ringmann to work on the Cosmographiæ Introductio. With these factors in mind, it would not be surprising that some jealousy might arise on the part of society members, and possibly Ludd arranged for the printing of one edition omitting the part that Ringmann and Waldseemüller played, thus gaining for the society the credit that Ludd felt it (and he) deserved.


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