Riding the wave


Gerard Mercator

Mercator, born Gerard Kremer, born in 1512 in Flanders and was a pupil of Gemma Frisius University of Leuven.

Mid-century founded a cartographic laboratory, as distinguished sfereografo. In 1554 created the map of Europe in 15 sheets and, in 1569, the large world map that he himself called "ad usum navigantium", which became universally known for being built in increasing latitudes in the cylindrical projection isogona that took his name: is to represent the meridians parallel to each other, while the parallel proceeding from the equator to the poles with increasing distances proportional. In 1599 the Englishman Edward Wright he gave a mathematical explanation in his book Certain Errors in Navigation.

In subsequent years, between 1578 and 1589, Mercator published several collections of Ptolemaic maps and regional maps, the latest of which - in 29 tables describing the "Sarmanticae regiones et reigns Septentrional" - was just printed posthumously under the title Atlas sive cosmographicae Meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabrica figure.

The atlas was innovative - than the work of Ortelius - his record in the advanced geographical knowledge leading to major discoveries and making use of projections.

In practice, however, the sailors continued to prefer the flat cards, and then the 'Atlas met for the general public, although he met several editions.

On the death of Mercator, activity mapping was continued by the disciple and friend Jodocus Hondius who, in 1628, did homage to the King of France to French edition of 'Atlas.

The map of the Strait of Magellan, mm. 660 x 330, belongs to the French edition of 1628 's Atlas, published a few months after his death, which took place in Duisburg in 1594. And 'oriented with North at the bottom and has the only decorative elements typical of the time: land and sea monsters, sailing ships at sea, frames developed and emblematic images, like the compass that encloses the scale or albatross to the sides of scroll. However Strait waters are represented, dried, some islands and several place names, while a comment attached report the most significant shipment of Magellan . In a box at the bottom left shows a view of the Straits with the legend "Dese Enlanden day in Gheene Pascaerten gengeteeckent bevonden en worden, Liggen van der Strate incomste of Magellan ONO verscheijden 50 mijlen hoochade van de op 51 Graden."
(Genoa, Civico Museo Navale )

Utrecht Research Program in the History of Cartography : a glossary of atlases and pilot books published in Holland until the end of the nineteenth century, variously located in the world