Based on a projection by Peter Apian, and first published with a geographic textbook, this map limits decorative and geographic detail, adding further emphasis to the already established system of cartographic organization. The numbers along the right side indicate the now-codified subdivisions in Aristotle’s climate zones known as the ordo climatum. Along the left side, the lines denoting the gradus latitudinis are subdivided to two degrees, allowing readers to note the precise locations of the tropics. Those denoting the gradus longitudinis follow the Ptolemaic convention in starting at the Canary Islands and running continuously eastward to degree 360.
The map’s maker, Johann Honter—a Saxon humanist, theologian, and Lutheran reformer—was a strong advocate for general literacy. Having studied wood-engraving in Switzerland he returned to his native Transylvania (now Romania) where he established a school and a press, using one to produce books for the other. This effort included several editions of his Rudimenta cosmographica. A 1546 edition published in Zürich marked the first appearance of this map. In 1548, the same block was used for this print, published with the first edition of Joachim Vadianus’s Epitome trium terrae partium . . ., a geography textbook. Due to the didactic value of an image that revealed cartography’s organizing framework so clearly, the block continued to circulate for nearly fifty more years.