Mercator Atlas of 1595

Mercator Atlas of 1595

Germany — 1595

The template for all subsequent atlases: Gerardus Mercator's posthumously published picture atlas from 1595

  1. The polymath Gerardus Mercator (1512–1594) was known as the Ptolemy of his day

  2. The inventor of the modern atlas was celebrated as far away as the Islamic-Arab world

  3. Published posthumously by his son Rumold, his 1595 atlas became the template for all cartographic works

Mercator Atlas of 1595

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Mercator Atlas of 1595

With his large overview maps and detailed depictions of individual countries and regions, Gerardus Mercator (1512–1594) created a milestone of geography. He was additionally the first to use the term "Atlas" for a collection of maps and thus created the first and most important bound cartographic work. His Atlas, sive Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et fabricati figura was published posthumously in 1595 by his son Rumold and fundamentally changed the medieval view of the world with his depictions of the world of continents and countries. Nevertheless, apart from its scientific geographical precision, it was also the artistically interesting paintings that made the colored copperplates so attractive.

Mercator Atlas of 1595

Mercator's World Atlas of 1595 is undoubtedly the primary work of 16th century cartography. The polymath Gerardus Mercator (1512–1594), whose fame even extended to the the Islamic-Arab world, was already celebrated during his lifetime as the Ptolemy of his day. He completed his largest project, the Atlas, sive Cosmographicae meditation de Fabrica Mundi et fabricati figura, only shortly before his death, it was thus posthumously published in 1595 by his son Rumold. The edition at hand assembles 57 double-sided maps and tables of this milestone of cartography, which still inspires with large overview maps of the world and detailed representations of individual countries and regions.

The Polymath from Flanders

Gerardus Mercator was born on March 5th, 1512 near Antwerp, in modern Belgium. After being accused of heresy in his homeland, he moved with his family to Duisburg in 1552, where he became professor of cosmography at the newly founded university. In 1537, he began producing globes, wall maps and scientific instruments made of copper, which he created as several commissions for Emperor Charles V (1500–1558). His greatest invention is the Mercator projection, which was first recorded in 1569 on a 21-sheet wall map of the world. It is the first accurate and geographically precise representation of the earth.

The First atlas

For his primary work, the polymath Mercator used the term "Atlas" for the first time to denote a collection of maps. Thus, the concept was style-forming for a whole genre and became the template for all following cartographic works. The aim of the engravings was to give an all-encompassing description of heaven and earth, including theology and history. With his five-part work, Mercator was able to fundamentally change the medieval worldview with new geographical information and to develop the most important navigation aid for travelers on land and water.

Precision Meets Aesthetics

However, this first and most important bound cartographic work ever created not only captivates with scientific geographic knowledge, but also because of its artistically excellent paintings. This unique combination of precision and aesthetics can be seen in the blue waters with their small fishes and imposing ships, as well as in the magnificent landscapes and meadows, which shine in a lush green. Furthermore, each card carries a title in elaborate pen, which looks almost three-dimensional.


Alternative Titles
Atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura
Mercator Weltatlas 1595
Size / Format
258 pages / 45.0 × 33.0 cm
57 colourized double-page maps and 4 title pages
Selection of 57 double pages maps of the Mercator Atlas from 1595
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Mercator Atlas of 1595
Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 2004
Limited Edition: 1995 copies

Mercator Weltatlas 1595 - Standard Edition
Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 2004
Detail Picture

Mercator Atlas of 1595


The map GERMANIA shows the external borders of the Holy Roman Empire in yellow, but there is a strange ring of yellow inside of it: Bohemia. Since the execution of Jan Hus for heresy in 1415 and the resulting Hussite Wars, Bohemia experienced various periods of semi-autonomy and even outright independence as they successfully fought off various invading armies. These religious and political differences would ultimate boil over into the Bohemian Revolt that sparked the 30 Years’ War in 1618.

Mercator Weltatlas 1595 - Limited Edition
Single Page

Mercator Atlas of 1595


This double-page map of Europe is a fantastic specimen of late–16th century cartography, which benefitted greatly from the knowledge gathered in the course of the Age of Exploration. From the Russian steppe to the Atlantic coast of Spain, and from the Nile Delta to the icy shores of Greenland and the Arctic, Europe is depicted with a perfect blend of art and science.

Political boundaries are distinguished by color, although the Kingdom of Bohemia is segregated from the rest of the Holy Roman Empire for reasons that are unclear. Topographical features are depicted with great accuracy including coastlines, rivers, forests, and mountain ranges. Finally, it has the cylindrical map projection invented by and named for the author – “Mercator projection”.

Mercator Weltatlas 1595 - Limited Edition
Facsimile Editions

#1 Mercator Weltatlas 1595 - Limited Edition

Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 2004
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Please ask for a quote!

#2 Mercator Weltatlas 1595 - Standard Edition

Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 2004

Publisher: Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 2004
Binding: Finest cowhide with rich blind and gold embossing and decoration
1 volume: Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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