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Claudius Ptolemy

Claudius Ptolemy


Claudius Ptolemy (fl. AD 127-145) was an ancient geographer, astronomer, and mathematician. He is known today through translations and transcriptions of his work, but little is known about his life besides his residence in Alexandria.

Several of his works are still known today, although they have passed through several alterations and languages over the centuries. The Almagest, in thirteen books, discusses astronomy. It is in the Almagest that Ptolemy postulates his geocentric universe. His geometric ideas are contained in the Analemma, and his optical ideas were presented in five books known as the Optica.

His geographic and cartographic work was immensely influential. In the Planisphaerium, Ptolemy discusses the stereographic projection. Perhaps his best-known work is his Geographia, in eight books. However, Ptolemy’s ideas had been absent from western European intellectual history for roughly a thousand years, although Arab scholars interacted with his ideas from the ninth century onward.

In 1295, a Greek monk found a copy of Geographia in Constantinople; the emperor ordered a copy made and the Greek text began to circulate in eastern Europe. In 1393, a Byzantine diplomat brought a copy of the Geographia to Italy, where it was translated into Latin in 1406 and called the Cosmographia. The manuscript maps were first recorded in 1415. These manuscripts, of which there are over eighty extant today, are the descendants of Ptolemy’s work and a now-lost atlas consisting of a world map and 26 regional maps.

When Ptolemy’s work was re-introduced to Western scholarship, it proved radically influential for the understanding and appearance of maps. Ptolemy employs the concept of a graticule, uses latitude and longitude, and orients his maps to the north—concepts we take for granted today. The Geographia’s text is concerned with three main issues with regard to geography: the size and shape of the earth; map projection, i.e. how to represent the world’s curve proportionally on a plane surface; and the corruption of spatial data as it transfers from source to source. The text also contains instructions as to how to map the world on a globe or a plane surface, complete with the only set of geographic coordinates (8000 toponyms, 6400 with coordinates) to survive from the classical world.



1

1598 - La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino, Tradotta di Greco nell'Idioma Volgare Italiano da Girolamo Russcelli

  • $24.99

1598 Edition of Ptolemy's Geography An excellent example of Rosaccio's improvement on Ruscelli's Ptolemy, adding contemporaneous knowledge and interpretations and extensively reworking the copperplate-engraved maps with decorative sea monsters and...


2

1730 - Orbis Antiqui Tabulae Geographicae Secundum Cl. Ptolemaeum, cum Indice Philologico absolutissimo...

  • $24.99

Nice example of the last edition of the Mercator/Ptolemy atlas, with engraved frontispiece, and 28 double-page engraved maps. "All maps, except the world map, have a graticule and the matching letters in the border added. For one map (Europe 7)...


3

1478 - Undecima Asiae Tabula (Southeast Asia, Thailand, Malaysia, India etc.)

  • $14.99

The Earliest Obtainable Map of Southeast Asia, India, etc. Important early map of the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia, first published in the 1478 Rome edition of Ptolemy's Geography, Claudii Ptholomei Alexandrini. Cosmographia..., created under the...


4

1507 - Tabula Moderna Prussie, Livonie, Norvegie et Gottie

  • $14.99

Rare Early Map of Northern Europe Important early map of Northern Europe, Scandinavia and the British Isles, which first appeared in the 1507-1508 Rome edition of Ptolemy's Geography, Claudii Ptholomei Alexandrini. Cosmographia..., created under the...


5

1482 - [France] Tertia Europa Tabula

  • $14.99

The First Map of France Printed North of the Alps Based upon the work of the 2nd Century Alexandrian polymath Claudius Ptolemy, this map is perhaps the single most important and decorative map of the region printed in the 15th Century. The map...


6

1507 - [Tabula Moderna Francie]

  • $14.99

The First Modern Map of France. Very scarce etched and engraved map of France, published in the 1507 edition of the Rome Ptolemy Atlas. The map is a marked improvement from the Ptolemy-based map of the earlier editions, adding islands, topography,...


7

1478 - (Poland, Baltic, Russia, Ukraine) Octava Europe Tabula

  • $14.99

The Earliest Obtainable Map of the Poland, the Baltic, Russia & Ukraine Region Important early map of Northeastern Europe, from the Baltic to the Sea of Azoff and the Danube, which first appeared in the 1478 Rome edition of Ptolemy's Geography,...


8

1486 - Secunda Asie Tabula [Ukraine, Russia, Black Sea]

  • $14.99

Fine old color example of this remarkable early map of the Russia, Ukraine and the Black Sea region, from the 1486 Ulm edition of Ptolemy's Geographia. The map is drawn from the work of Nicolas Germanicus, whose manuscript maps were created to...


9

1486 - [Taprobana] Duodecima Asie Tabula

  • $14.99

Sri Lanka, As Known To The Greeks Fine old color example of this remarkable early map of Taprobana (Sri Lanka), from the 1486 Ulm edition of Ptolemy's Geographia. The map is drawn from the work of Nicolas Germanicus, whose manuscript maps were...


10

1482 - [Arabian Peninsula] [Sexta Asie Tabula, Arabia Felix.]

  • $14.99

True First State of the Earliest Woodblock Printed Map of the Arabian Peninsula Stunning map of the Arabian Peninsula, the first woodblock printed depiction of the region, in spectacular contemporary hand-coloring. The map is from the rare 1482 Ulm...