Mercator’s map of the arctic first appeared as a vignette in his 1569 world map. The Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator’s methods of map-making were so accurate and reliable that they are still commonly used today (recall the Mercator projection) and have remained virtually unchanged for nearly 450 years! His maps of Europe and the known world were exceptionally accurate and were commonly used with a great degree of reliability for navigation and commerce.
Bear in mind that prior to the advent of GPS and satellite navigational aids, exploration was the sole method of acquiring the data necessary for accurately portraying geographical details on a map. So, when we view Mercator’s representation of the Arctic as containing a large landmass, equally divided into for sections by massive rivers, it stands to reason that this data was acquired by means of thorough exploration. It also is apparent that, according to the perspective of the early explorers, they had no glaringly obvious indicators to conclude that the land mass they were then encountering actually lay at the interior of the earth. Instead they assumed, as did many at the time, that the massive island or continent was actually an “island at the top of the world.” Mercator’s representation of the Arctic also very closely parallels the experiences of Olaf Jansen and his father in their exploration of the inner world.
So, it can be seen why and how these myths of an “undiscovered” northern region … a land beyond the north wind came to be and how a man, so obsessed with details as was Mercator, painstakingly reproduced the knowledge he had in his posession on his map of the Arctic.
” Mercator’s map of the arctic appeared first as a vignette in his 1569 world map. This enlarged (the one I’ve sent you) version was published posthumously by his son in the third and final part of his atlas, the first publication to be so named. The arctic had yet to be explored at the time Mercator created his map and is, therefore, based upon commonly held beliefs about the region. Mercator’s map inspired explorers like the Englishman Martin Frobisher to seek a northwest passage to China. In turn, the expeditions of Frobisher and others advanced the charting of the arctic.
On myth related to north pole : “…..Frej was the first Bock, the first member of the Aser. Aser were the pipol (pronounced “pee-pol”, means people) living inside Odemna (pronounced “uuu-den-maaa), a ringland, a sunland, a motherland, an eternal land, 250 km in diameter, the exact center of which was Hel (means “clear”, “home” and “complete”), located at the original north pole of the bal we call Earth before Ice Time when its axis of rotation was yet perpendicular to its plane of orbit around the Sun. Freja was the first Svan, the first feminine member of the Aser, the first matar.
Thus inside Odenma, surrounding the north pole before the Earth’s axial declination, the Sun would appear to circle the horizon 24 hours a day, while at the equator the days were equally divided, 12 hours with sun, 12 hours without, there being no seasons as were caused by the later shifting of the axis, occurring, according to the linguistics, 50,010,011 years ago, on July 24.” SOURCE: http://forums.atlantisrising.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/000941.html
Other links to Mercartors origins and work:
On the hollow earth theory (you probably have already):
On various old maps:
Some copy&paste docs with sources:
One of the earliest (see note below regarding Waldseemuller) people ever to bind a group of seperate maps together into a single book was a Belgian-German cartographer named Gerhard Kremer. Kremer is better known for the Latinized version of his name, Mercator . The name Kremer in German, and Cremer in Dutch both mean merchant. The Latin name for a merchant was Mercator, and the word was commonly used for the travelling book merchants of Germany and the lowlands. When Kremer followed the fashion of educated German men of his period to Latinize his name, he chose Gerardus Mercator de Rupelmonde. Rupelmonde was his birthplace. Mercator gave the name Atlas to these volumes of maps to suggest that they “held” the whole world. He also included a graphic of Atlas holding the sphere of the world on the title page. Mercator explained his choice with the words, “I have set this man Atlas, so notable for his erudation, humaneness, and wisdom as a model for my imitation.”
Mercator’s Atlas was not the first publication of a systematic collection of modern maps. That honor would go to Martin Waldseemuller in 1507 (Mercator’s Atlas was not published until 1595) when he published a Supplementum modernior seperate from his Ptolemaic geography, Cosmographiae Introducto. Among his other unique firsts, Waldseemuller should be remembered for championing the name of “America” for the “new” continent across the Atlantic. Waldseemuller wrote in his geograhy, “Since another fourth part (of the world, which until then had consisted of three parts, Europe, Asia, and Africa) has been discovered by Americus Vesputius, I do not see why anyone should object to its being called after Americus the Discoverer, a man of natural wisdom, Land of Americus or America…”. Waldseemuller also was the first to draw a world map that covered 360 degrees of latitude, and the first to publish a globe, released with his Cosmographiae Introducto with America on it. He was also the first to print a map with more that two colors. Mercator’s Atlas was not the first collection of maps, but it was a step beyond Waldseemuller’s collection in many ways. Mercator’s maps were all original and to the same scale.
THE FIRST ATLAS
by John H. Lienhard
Today, we make maps into a user-friendly information system. The University of Houston’s College of Engineering presents this series about the machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them.
The atlas was a most peculiar invention. To see how it came into being, let’s meet two Flemish friends. They were Gerardus Mercator and Abraham Ortelius.
Mercator, born in 1512, was older by 15 years. He was an intellectual, a mathematician, and an innovator. He went on to become the great Renaissance mapmaker. He gave us the Mercator projection. He published a world map in that projection in 1569.
Ortelius trained as an engraver — an artist/craftsman. In 1554 he went into business buying and selling maps. For Ortelius, maps were merchandise. He’d collect maps and redraw them. He’d decorate their borders and the empty reaches of land and sea. He’d mount them on silk and render them in color.
Mercator also saw the map as a work of art. His own map of the world was an artistic triumph as well as an intellectual one. He knew good work, and he had a very high opinion of Ortelius.
Mercator’s world map had one nasty drawback. It was huge. It was meant to hang on a wall. Old maps were like that. For minor place-names to be readable, the map had to be immense.
Up-to-date maps were serious business for seagoing Netherlands traders. Finally, a trader named Hooftman came to Ortelius and said, in effect, “Can’t you chop these bedsheets into two-foot squares and publish the map of the world in a book?”
Ortelius wasn’t thinking in terms of books, but, with Mercator’s help, he collected the best maps around. He created the book Hooftman had asked for. In 1570 he made the first atlas.
He didn’t call it an atlas. He called it a Theatre of the Round World. It sold like hot-cakes and went into one improved printing after another. Praise followed it. People called Ortelius a great intellectual. Mercator himself praised Ortelius for “the faithfulness with which you bring out geographical truth.”
It was 1585 before the aging Mercator published the first volume of his own world map in book form. By then Ortelius was the more famous of the two. Sir Francis Drake took his maps to sea. For a while, Mercator walked in his young friend’s shadow.
Mercator, as much a theologian as a cartographer, titled his new book Atlas, or Cosmographical Meditations upon the Creation of the Universe. In his engraved title page, he was first to summon the image of the mythical Atlas, condemned to carry the world on his shoulders.
Mercator may’ve given the atlas its name and much of its substance to boot. Yet we’d be foolish to forget Ortelius. You see, atlases came into being for a very modern reason. They were created when a trader simply hired a craftsman to recast crucially important information — into a user-friendly form.
I’m John Lienhard, at the University of Houston, where we’re interested in the way inventive minds work.
Wilford, J.N., The Mapmakers. New York: Vintage Books, 1982. (See especially Chapters 5 and 6.)
Boorstin, D., The Discoverers. New York: Random House, 1983, Chapter, 36, Knowledge Becomes Merchandise.
Osley, A.S., Mercator: A monograph on the lettering of maps, etc. in the 16th century Netherlands with a facsimile and translation of his treatise on the italic hand and a translation of Ghim’s VITA MERCATORIS. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1969.
See also the Encyclopaedia Britannica entries under Ortelius and Mercator.
I am grateful to Pat Bozeman, Head of Special Collections, UH Library, for pointing out to me the commercial origin of Ortelius’s atlas. Special Collections at UH holds the following original, and fine facsimile, source material:
Ortelius, A., Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Antwerp: Standaard Uitgeverij, 1970. Facsimile reproduction of the 1570 edition.
Mercator, G., Gerard Mercator’s Map of the world (1569) in the form of an atlas in the Maritiem Museum “Prins Hendrik” at Rotterdam; reproduced on the scale of the original and issued by the Maritiem Museum “Prins Hendrik” and the editors of Image mundi, Rotterdam: 1961. (This facsimile of Mercator’s map of the world has been reduced to atlas form for convenience. The original, of course, had not been.)
Mercator, G., Historia mundi : or, Mercator’s atlas ; containing his Cosmographical description of the fabricke and figure of the world. Lately rectified in divers places, as also beautified and enlarged with new mappes and tables; by the studious industry of Ivdocvs Hondy (Tr. Wye Saltonstall), London: Printed by T. Cotes for Michael Sparke and Samuel Cartwright, 1635 [i.e., 1637]. (This is one of the later editions of Mercator’s original atlas which, by the way, went to three volumes, the last of which was published after his death in 1594.)
Mercator was born Gerhard Kremer, the son of a poor cobbler in Rupelmonde, Flanders, (now Belgium, near Antwerp) in 1512, then lived with a rich uncle in the small town of Gangelt. He studied for the priesthood for a short time, then entered the University of Louvain (east of Brussels) in 1530. Mercator earned a Masters degree in philosophy in 1532. Fairly early in life he followed a practice common for those who could afford it of officially Latinizing his German name. Kremer means “merchant,” in German. Mercator means “world trader.”
Mercator married in 1536 and raised six children. Late in life his first wife and a son died, and Mercator remarried in 1586. Mercator was a victim of the Inquisition, accused of heresy against the Catholic church in 1544, probably in part for his Protestant beliefs, as well as what was thought to be suspicious activity from wide travels in search of data for his maps. He spent seven months in prison, then was released for lack of evidence. He moved almost immediately to a primarily Protestant area to reduce the threat of future persecution, then later to Duisberg, Germany (near Essen and Dusseldorf) in 1552, to reduce his exposure further.
Mercator’s primary scientific disciplines were cartography and geography, though he also studied mathematics, astronomy, and engraving. He made his living off of rich friends and retainers, as well as making and selling scientific instruments and globes, publishing maps, and teaching. In Germany he perfected and published his famous first map of the world using the Mercator projection in 1569. He died there in 1594 at the age of 82.
Mercator was far ahead of his time in many ways. His map projection utilizes mathematical formulae that had not yet been described in 1569, when the first Mercator projection was published. John Napier’s work in logarithms, Isaac Newton’s and Gottfried Leibniz’s work in inventing calculus, and Karl Gauss’s description of differential geometry were all done from 20 to over 100 years after Mercator died. Mercator had figured out how to make his map using only a compass and a protractor.
MORE MERCATOR TIDBITS
The Mercator projection keeps relative angles (orthomorphic), but surface areas get distorted in large area maps. Early sailors could put up with the distortion. What they really liked about Mercator’s new mapping style was that grid angles were preserved over the whole map so it was easier for them to navigate in a “straight line” between ports. They could figure a compass bearing and stay with it. Map projections developed before this required following a constantly changing compass bearing to get from port to port. Different map users prefer projections other than the Mercator, though. For example, aviators and surveyors cannot easily work with maps using Mercator’s projection.
A technical paper on Mercator and his projection:
A page from students of Steinbart High School in Duisberg, the German town in which Mercator did his later work:
A fact sheet on Mercator’s life and times:
Some pages from a GPS Website:
http://joe.mehaffey.com/utm-faq.txt SOURCE: http://www.paddles.com/users/wildcamp/utmnym.html#biog