1507: First map to use the name ‘America’

‘The Waldseemüller map is a printed wall map of the world by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, originally published in April 1507. It is known as the first map to use the name “America”.  

‘A single copy of the map survives.’


4 Responses


    great blog – BTW, I link to your blog

    The Atlantic did a piece about this map

    “reading about the transatlantic explorations of the Florentine merchant Amerigo Vespucci, a small group of scholars in Saint-Dié coined the name America and put it on a giant world map known today as the Waldseemüller map of 1507 (named for the group’s chief mapmaker, Martin Waldseemüller). Surviving in the form of a single printed copy, it’s a remarkable document, and not just because of the name America. Drawn fifteen years after Christopher Columbus first sailed across the Atlantic, the map departed from the prevailing idea, based on Columbus’s own beliefs, that the lands being explored were some yet-to-be-determined part of Asia. Instead, it showed the New World as a giant, entirely new landmass surrounded by water—and, tantalizingly, it did so years before any European is known to have laid eyes on the Pacific.”

    “The mapmakers also produced a miniature version—a series of little paper strips designed to be cut out and pasted together onto a ball, in effect creating the first mass-produced globe ever made—and a geographical treatise called the Cosmographiaeintroductio, which explained the choice of the name America.”

  2. eric

    i wish that every inbred redneck who swears that the US is AMERICA and believe that AMERICA is a country and not a continent would visit this site and get a dose of reality.
    the southern hemisphere has always been the original AMERICA.
    I looked very hard and could not find Jamestown or Washington DC…GO FIGURE.

  3. Richard Wills

    Oh Eric, from your name I’m guessing you’re actually grouchy that the northern continent did not retain the name ‘Vinland’

  4. David

    It’s an oversimplification to say that the Waldseemueller map was in any real way revolutionary for not showing America as part of Asia. Columbus went to the grave insisting he had found the Indies but most of his contemporaries realized pretty quickly that the New World was far too close to be the Asia they knew at least a little bit about. Columbus was something of a laughingstock for his regressive (even by the standards of the day) beliefs about the land and its inhabitants. It’s still a great map, impressively made. Just not ahead of its time as it’s often said to be. Also, they used the Voyages of the Zeno Brothers for the North Sea,which is like using a Dan Brown book to write the history of the Church.


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