Many Versions of Cosmographia

As would be expected in a work published over such a long period of time, there were many different versions of Cosmographia. Of those published in Latin, there was the original edition by Apian, the corrected version by Gemma, the abridgement called Cosmographiae Introductio, and three other versions enlarged with contributions by Gemma appearing in 1531, 1539, and 1584. The first of these additions was De locorum describendorum ratione (Concerning the method of describing places) with De eorum distantijs inueniendis (Concerning determining their distances). In 1539 Usus annuli astronomici (The use of the astronomical rings) was added, and in 1584 Astrolabio catholico (The universal astrolabe).

The Dutch, French and Spanish editions carried Cosmographia to people beyond the Latin-speaking scholarly community, enlarging its audience considerably. The Parisian editions in both Latin and French were printed in italic type and were "newly illustrated" (not with wholly new cuts, but with a rearrangement of the illustrations from the previous editions). The celestial sphere was used on the title pages of the Parisian editions while the terrestrial globe was used on the Antwerp editions.

This image of a celestial sphere was used in the Parisian editions of 1550, 1551, and 1553 on the title page.

The 1575 Spanish edition printed at Antwerp in 1575 was enlarged with excerpts from the writings of Lopez de Gomara as well as Jerome Girava and a description of cities and towns in the West Indies was also included. These additions were also present in the 1581 French and the 1584 Latin editions.

In all, there were 32 editions in Latin, 8 in Dutch, 5 in French and 2 in Spanish. It is surprising that there was never an English translation of Cosmographia. Two excerpts from an unpublished translation of the 1524 edition, the descriptions of Asia and of America, are reproduced in George Kish's A Source book in geography.


The title page, left, of Cosmographiae introductio shows the date MDXXIX (1529), but the colophon, right, gives the correct date of 1533.
The full title of the abridged version is Cosmographiae introductio: cum quibusdam Geometriae ac Astronomiae principiis ad eam rem necessarius (The Introduction to Cosmography with the necessary principles of Geometry and Astronomy) and its pages carried the running title "Rudimenta Cosmographia" (The rudiments of cosmography). Although Apianus' name does not appear in the Introductio, there is little doubt that it is his work. The first three editions of this abridgement (of a total of fourteen) were printed in Ingolstadt, where Apianus was professor of mathematics, and chapters xxv-xxviii are direct reprints of the 1524 Cosmographicus liber. Cosmographiae Introductio was printed only in Latin, and came from presses in four cities (Ingolstadt, Venice, Cologne, and Paris) over a period of 23 years. The last edition of Introductio was published in 1554 from the Venetian press of Fr. Bindoni . A variant of this edition carries a date on the title page of 1537 but of 1554 in the colophon at the end of the book. This also occurred in the first three editions printed at Ingolstadt: their title pages each show the date MDXXIX (1529), but their colophons give their actual dates as 1531, 1532, and 1533.

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