Gerard Mercator
Gerard Mercator (Gerard de Cremer) was one of the most renowned cosmographers of the 16th century, and also worked as an instrument maker. He was born on 5 March 1512 in Rupelmonde (near Antwerp) and spent his youth in Gangelt in the county of J?lich (between Aachen and Cologne). In 1530 he entered the university of Louvain where became an apprentice of Gemma Frisius and assisted him with the design of a pair of terrestrial and celestial globes which were completed in 1537. He became a very talented copper engraver, a skill he probably learned at the workshop of Gaspard van der Heyden.

His fame largely rests on the geographical maps which he engraved from 1537 onwards. In 1541 he published his own terrestrial globe to which he added a celestial counterpart in 1551 with an instruction manual. Mercator is also known to have made armillary spheres, astrolabes, sundials and astronomical ring dials, several of which had been commissioned by the Habsburg Emperor Charles V. Unfortunately, apart from a few recently attributed astrolabes, most of Mercator's instruments are lost.

In 1552 he moved to Duisburg where he was subsequently appointed surveyor and cosmographer to the Duke Wilhelm V of J?lich-Cleve-Berge. Mercator continued to design and engrave new maps and in 1569 he published his famous world map with increasing latitudes. He started to collect, correct and augment his maps with the view to include them in a multi-volume treatise on cosmography, geography and history, parts of which were published between 1578 and 1589. Gerard Mercator died in Duisburg on 2 December 1594 before this ambitious project was completed.

For instruments by Gerard Mercator, see:
   Astrolabe, Attributed to Gerard Mercator, Duisburg, circa 1570 (Firenze, IMSS)


E. Zinner, Deutsche und Niederl?ndische astronomische Instrumente des 11. bis 18. Jahrhunderts (2nd ed., Munich, 1967), pp. 443-4; M. Watelet (ed.), G?rard Mercator Cosmographe, le Temps et l'Espace (Antwerp, 1994); G. L'E. Turner, "The Three Astrolabes of Gerard Mercator", Annals of Science, 51 (1994), pp. 329-53; V. A. Rasquin, Dictionnaire des Constructeurs Belges d'Instruments Scientifiques (les origines ? 1914) (Brussels, 1996), pp. 72-3; K. van Cleempoel, "La Produccion de Instrumentos Cientificos en Lovaina en el Siglo XVI", pp. 87-109 in K. van Cleempoel et al, Instrumentos Cientificos del Siglo XVI: la Corte Espa?ola y la Escuela de Lovaina (Madrid, 1997), pp. 87-109 [pp. 59-74 in the English summary]; G. L'E. Turner, "Gerard Mercator, Constructor de Astrolabios", in K. van Cleempoel et al, Instrumentos Cientificos del Siglo XVI: la Corte Espa?ola y la Escuela de Lovaina (Madrid, 1997),pp. 110-23 [pp. 75-80 in the English summary].

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