GeoCarta Has Moved

Sep 28, 2007

America's "Birth Certificate" to go on Display in New Exhibit

Two maps created in 1509 by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller will be the centerpiece of an exhibition set to open October 1, at the James Ford Bell Library in Minneapolis. The exhibition is to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the maps.

The maps were accompanied by an introductory cosmography text, Cosmographiae introductio. One is a small globe gores map, designed to be cut out and pasted onto a sphere. The other map is a 12-panel wall map. In addition to their age and rarity, the maps are noteworthy because they were the first to use the name "America" for what we now call South America. For this reason, these maps are often referred to as America's birth certificate. The maps were also the first to display newly discovered lands (both North and South America) are depicted as land masses separate from Asia.

The globe gores map was the first map known to show the whole earth. It is one of only 4 copies known to be in existence. Station KARE reports that a similar map was sold in 2005 at a London auction house for $1 million.