First map to name America expected to set record at auction

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The Independent Online

So dominant is its power in the 21st century, it is difficult to contemplate a time when America was not a name to be reckoned with.

So dominant is its power in the 21st century, it is difficult to contemplate a time when America was not a name to be reckoned with.

But a map that has come to light in Europe is an exceptionally rare example of the first ever to name the continent. It was printed by Martin Waldseemuller in 1507 and presents the first use of the world "America" in honour of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

The copy was identified only two years ago when a European collector saw a newspaper photograph of one of only three others in existence. He recognised the jagged outline as being similar to one of his own.

The document was sent to Christie's in London whose specialists confirmed it was one of the exceptionally rare Waldseemuller maps. A world record price for a printed map of up to £800,000 is expected when it is auctioned on 8 June.

Tom Lamb, director of the auction house's book and manuscript department, said: "It is the most interesting map I think I will ever handle. There are really very few early ones left to be found."

Until this map was published, the conception of the world was based on the knowledge of the Ancient Greeks. But in 1505 scholars gathered in Strasbourg to draw a new map based on Vespucci's journals.

Although Christopher Columbus had discovered America in 1492, he believed he had reached Asia. It was Vespucci who argued that the new land was not Asia but a new continent.

Waldseemuller produced Cosmographiae Introductio, in which the new land was named "America". The map was designed to be cut and made into a palm-size globe.

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