Author Climbing in the Queyras, Summer 2013

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Schoner's Fragments:
Terrestrial and Celestial Globe Gore Fragments from the Schoner Sammelband

The discoverer of the Sammelband, Josef Fischer, removed the 1507 and 1516 world maps in order to produce a facsimile of them and in doing so recovered from the gutter of the binding fragments of a set of globe gores that belong to Schöner’s 1515 globe. There are only two other surviving examples of this globe, one owned by the Historisches Museum in Frankfurt am Main, and the other by the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Stiftung Weimar Klassik. The gore fragments were trimmed and glued onto gore outlines by Fischer and then rebound into the Sammelband when the 1507 and 1516 maps were replaced. The set of terrestrial fragments found in the Sammelband constitutes approximately 50 percent of the actual globe. Schöner’s 1515 globe depends heavily on Waldseemüller’s 1507 Universalis cosmographiae for much of its geographical information andmany of the legends that appear on the 1515 globe gores are small paraphrases from the larger 1507 map. The globe goes
much farther, however, in its description of the New World, in that it actually shows a complete passage around South America into the Pacific Ocean. A more complete description of the geography found on the gores can be found in the companion volume that Schöner wrote to accompany the globe, Luculentissima quaedam terrae totius descriptio. Besides the terrestrial fragments, a second set of vellum gore fragments was found in the Sammelband.

These are from Schöner’s celestial globes and represent a different edition of Schöner’s celestial gores than is found fully bound in the Sammelband. The fragments represent much less than half of the total globe. In contrast to the full paper gores described below, the celestial fragments show the equator of the earth projected onto the celestial sphere at an angle to the ecliptic. The gore fragments also show differences in the labeling of particular constellations such as
Delphini, and show signs of print stereotyping.

The celestial gores found in the Sammelband are printed on paper and form a complete set of Schöner’s gores from 1517. The gores are the first known set of printed celestial gores and are a great improvement over other star charts of the period. Although Schöner’s interest focused mostly on geography in the early period of his life, we still can see in his extant manuscripts interest in the accurate determinations of stellar positions for the purpose of casting horoscopes. This interest is further established by the annotations that he made to the 1515 Stabius star chart by Albrecht Dürer that originally constituted part of the Sammelband. The Dürer chart contains several well-known errors that Schöner corrected by annotating both the chart itself and his globe. One of the most remarkable features of Schöner’s celestial gores is the naming of several groups of stars in minor constellations that were unnamed on celestial charts. For example, the stars in the constellation Coma Berenicies are usually shown on star charts of the period but went unnamed until Schöner called them Trica (located just above Leo) on his globe gores. Schöner has annotated the gores in red ink mostly over the constellations of Andromeda, Perseus, and Orion.
The 1517 globe, called Solidi et sphaerici corporis sive globi astronomici canones usum et expeditam praxim ejusdem exprimentes, was dedicated to the Bishop of Bamberg, Georg Schenk von Limberg, as were many of Schöner’s works and letters. Several parts of the Schöner Sammelband have been removed over the course of its life, including the 1507 Universalis cosmographiae, now in the Library of Congress; an annotated Dürer star chart from 1515, still at Wolfegg Castle; and a manuscript drawing by Schöner of sheet six of the 1516
Carta Marina, privately held by Jay Kislak.
Some of the most interesting texts regarding Schoner's globes come from his manuscripts that are in the National Library in Vienna. Especially important is a compilation of texts that is listed in their catalog as MS. 3505. In that manuscript there is a treatise called Regionum sive civitatum distantiae, which is a short theoretical work that deals with the problem of locating place-names on a globe using a planar map as a source. In other words, Schoner is talking about the inverse projection problem. In the work Schoner lays out several methods for turning planar maps back into spheres and using them for sources when making globes. Many of the construction methods that he discusses are quite complex requiring mathematical skill and a fairly detailed knowledge of projections. More on this will be found in my forthcoming book, A Globemaker's Toolbox: the mathematical and geographical notebooks of Johannes Schoner, which will be published late next year.
For more information on Schoner's Globes see Chet van Duzer's forthcoming study from the American Philosophical Society and for more images and a complete description of the Sammelband see my articles in "The Jay Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress"