Corrections to Place Names on Waldseemüller's 1516 Carta Marina
“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and portals of discovery.”
On sheet number 9 of the 1516 Carta Marina by Martin Waldseemüller there are two ornamental shields, one of which is covered by a cutout piece of paper of the same shape (figure 1). It has been thought that beneath the shield occurs a series of printed errata that pertain to corrections that may have been made to the map. The full transcription and analysis of these errata have until now however proved illusive. The hyperspectral imaging accomplished last year at the Library of Congress has provided the means with which to finally transcribe these errata and analyze their relationship to the 1516 Carta Marina map.
Transmitted hyperspectral images of the map sheets were taken at a variety of wavelengths in the near infrared and have allowed the viewing of the printed text through the pastedown paper overlay (figure 2).
The inscription shown in the figure consists of a series of changes that needed to be made to the map and has provided evidence that one of the sheets (number 6) is an earlier proof copy. The changes consist mostly of misspelled and misplaced city and region names.
Sheet 6 of the Carta Marina shows the coast of West Africa and does not contain the red lines drawn on the rest of the map by its owner, the Nuremburg mathematician and astronomer, Johannes Schöner (1474-1547). This particular sheet was also not bound into the Schöner Sammelband in the same way as the other sheets of the 1507 and 1516 maps and displays a different watermark from the others.
Schöner reproduced sheet 6 as a manuscript on vellum and had it bound into the Sammelband in the same way as the 1507 and other sheets of the 1516 map. His drawing shows the changes that are suggested in the errata list suggesting that he either had access to the list or to a later non-proof copy of the map.