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1507-08 Ruysch Map
Johannes Ruysch
21 7/8" wide / 16 ½" high
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1507-08 Ruysch World Map

This is the oldest printed map to depict America that is available to a collector. It appeared in the 1507 and 1508 editions of the Ptolemy Atlas that was published in Rome, though it is not listed in the contents of the 1507 edition. The only earlier printed maps depicting the New World are the single copies of the 1506 Contarini-Roselli map in the British Library and the 1507 Waldseemüller map in the U.S. Library of Congress, respectively.

The Ruysch map uses the same coniform projection as the Contarini- Rosselli map and presents Columbus' discoveries in the Caribbean. To the west of Spagnola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic), an island with the west coast obscured by a scrolled legend is probably Cuba; its location presents Columbus' concept that it was not an island but rather was connected to Asia. The South American continent where Columbus landed on the Paria peninsula of Venezuela in 1498 is named Mundus Novus.

The discoveries in North America of John Cabot, who sailed for England in 1497 and 1498, are also depicted. It is thought that Ruysch, the map maker, actually participated in that voyage of exploration and is, therefore, presenting first-hand information. Newfoundland is named Terra Nova and is connected to the northern part of the Asian continent in keeping with Cabot's assessment. Cabot never landed on North American continental land. Off the coast of Newfoundland, the word Baccalarus is assigned to a small island; the word derives from the Portuguese term for cod fish - the commercial stimulus for early voyages to the area.

-- Dr. Seymour I. Schwartz, co-author of The Mapping of America and author of The French and Indian War, This Land is Your Land and The Mismapping of America

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