PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius (ca 100-ca 178). Geographicae enarrationis libri octo. Retranslated by Wilibald Pirckheimer. Edited by Michael Villanovanus [Servetus]. Lyons: Melchior and Gasper Trechsel, 1535.
2o (391 x 272 mm). Large woodcut on title; title ruled in red and decorated in red and green watercolors, colophon leaf n4 present. 49 double-page maps and one single-page map, most with text on versos enclosed within elaborate woodcut borders [said to be the work of Hans Holbein and Urs Graf]; text with 4 large woodcut diagrams and 2 full-page woodcuts of a diagram and armillary sphere showing the projection of the winds by Albrecht Dürer (l4 verso), woodcut initials. (Last leaf [errata] inlaid, hole on i3 with loss of a few letters.) 18th-century French red morocco gilt (rebacked preserving original spine, letteringpiece renewed). Provenance: Lichtenstein (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION OF PTOLEMY EDITED BY MICHAEL SERVETUS. The work divides into three parts; the text, comprising the new Latin translation by the humanist Wilibald Pirckheimer (1470-1530), edited by Michael Villanovanus, known as Servetus (1511-1553); the maps, 27 depicting the ancient world and 22 of the modern world, with one map of Lotharingia; and the index. The maps are printed from unaltered blocks used in Lorenz Fries's edition printed by Grüninger in 1522 (the final map is captioned with this date and Fries's initials), in Grüninger's Strasbourg edition of 1525.
Several of the maps in this edition, including that relating to the Holy Land, are printed without their descriptive text on the versos, indicative of the effect of Calvinism, which meant that many copies of the earlier editions were burnt on Calvin's orders. Michael Servetus, a Spanish theologian and physician, was burnt at the stake in 1553, condemned by Calvin for his doctrinal heresies. "One piece of evidence used against Servetus was the passage on the back of map 37 [Palestime], where it is explained that 'Palestine was not such a fertile land as was generally believed, since modern travellers reported it barren.' This was not Servetus's original view, but copied from the 1525 [Pirckheymer] edition" (Nordenskiölk Collection 2, pp. 166-167). Four of the maps, including two maps of the modern world, relate to the Americas. Alden & Landis 535/14; Phillips Atlases 364; Sabin 66483.